Facebook just unveiled Paper, a social news app that will be launching on February 3rd, 2014. The app will feature news from people you follow along with news from categories you select such as Tech, Pop Culture, ect. Unlike the current newsfeed however, the app will feature a different design. The look has a more magazine-like elongated view more ideal for featuring longer content. The algorithm will also be different. Paper will be customizable based on your selected interests but not tied to likes like your current Facebook newsfeed. This leaves more room for outside content to mix in.
In addition to a machine generated algorithm of content, the selection of content in the categories of your choice will also be selected by human editors. This allows for “content serendipity”, according to TechCrunch. Users of the app are more likely to discover new content that is not so highly filtered by what your friends are sharing like the current Facebook stream. There is also a feature to compose and share your own stories as well.
Paper is the first app to be produced under Facebook Creative Labs. Facebook Creative Labs is an initiative to allow small teams within Facebook to work on mobile-focused projects. The idea is to let these teams to have flexibility, experiment, and execute quickly much like a new startup but under Facebook. This prevents the teams from being boggled down by the now much bigger size of the company.
The idea of an app like Paper is similar to the already popular Flipboard app currently in the market. Will Paper will steal marketshare from Flipboard? That remains to be seen. Facebook is vying for eyeballs. The more users that engage, the more revenue from ads will be brought in for Facebook. The company made its direction clear to focus on mobile, and regardless of whether Paper succeeds, Facebook Creative Labs certainly has a lot of potential.