Recent updates to Facebook have put greater focus on the social networks content sharing and visual stories capabilities, as well as introducing new tools that are useful to journalists.
In the keynote speech for news:rewired, Vadim Lavrusik, journalism programme manager at Facebook, explained how a range of features are being introduced to make Facebook a better platform for news reporting and distribution.
Lavrusik told a packed auditorium at MSN HQ in London:
Our main goal is to have a simpler, cleaner design with a bigger emphasis on content. It’s really meant to get rid of the clutter and clean up the experience.
The updated news feed, he added, will give a greater emphasis to images and sharing capabilities and more extensive features are expected to be rolled out slowly over the coming months.
The graph search feature, which is currently only available by request, enables users to search for publicly available photographs, people, locations or interests using natural language rather than keywords.
Lavrusik gave examples of searching for “people who work in the House of Commons who live in London” or simply “photos taken at Breezy point, New York”.
If you’re covering a news event being able to see photos that are from a specific locations is so valuable.
Another new feature is the integration of mobile and web based photo sharing, he said, allowing users to sync their mobile device with a private folder in the desktop version of Facebook. Users can store 2GB of images in this way before later selecting which photos they wish to share, as opposed to the immediate public posting of images from mobile devices.
Users may have already noticed a “follow” button on profiles and the ability to curate specific lists of other users into a mini news feed but these will be expanded upon as well.
“[The follow function] makes it easier to have a professional presence on facebook as well as a personal one,” said Lavrusik, explaining how a follow button could be added to articles to foster greater interaction with specific content creators.
The lists feature, in which users can create lists of pages and profiles related to a specific beat or customised for sources, will also receive greater expansion as Facebook developers learn how users interact with it better.
Keep an eye out on newsrewired.com for some top tips for journalists on using the new features.