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Facebook's new feature could 'devour' the Internet

How many articles do you click to read from your Facebook News Feed? Depending on how many articles your friends post on their timelines, many of the news stories and other articles you read could be coming through Facebook articles. In fact, for most online news and information sites their main source of readers these days is now Facebook.

That's a great way to catch up on interesting articles, but if you're using Facebook on a smartphone or tablet the experience can be a little awkward. You have to wait for the article to load on the site, and not every website is optimized for mobile. A lot of people quit halfway through and decide it's not worth it.

Facebook has noticed and decided to launch the "Instant Articles" system. This lets publishers send Facebook their stories that Facebook then provides on your timeline.

That way when you go to read an article, it loads right away. It can even include videos, moving images and large images for panning and zooming.

Publishers get to run their own ads and even sponsored content. They get full tracking and analytics to see how many folks are reading their articles. Plus, each publisher can have its own distinct visual identity so you know whose story you're reading. Add to that an audience of 1.3 billion people, and it's a publisher's dream.

But as with so many changes and improvements, there's just one problem.

So far, Facebook is working with the New York Times, National Geographic, BuzzFeed, NBC News and the Atlantic, so expect to starting seeing those in your News Feed if you're on an Apple gadget.

The Guardian, BBC News, Spiegel and Bild are coming soon, along with other publishers I'm sure. So, if publishers are getting what they want, and you're getting a better experience, why are some people concerned?

Facebook's terms are nice for now, but what happens in the future when it becomes the Web's dominant publishing platform and then changes the agreement. As you know, Facebook has a habit of changing its privacy policies to benefit itself, and I doubt this will be different.

If in the future you have to publish on Facebook to be successful, Facebook can start dictating or controling what you write or even put entire publishing companies out of business. That's kind of the opposite of how the Internet is supposed to work.

So, what do you think about this development? Before you let me know in the comments, see what it will look like to use Instant Articles in Facebook.


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Source: Re/code
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