Because they weren't self-evidently about marketing or new ways to make us more mindful of 'brands', recent changes to Facebook have slipped a little under the radar. Mainstream media coverage was slim.
Buzzfeed's John Herman was the exception from what I was able to find (and if you consider Buzzfeed 'mainstream'). He took a thorough look at what Facebook has been up to in its battle with Twitter — yes, Twitter:
Last year, Facebook spent a lot of time and energy making the case that it should be a publicly traded company. This year, Facebook is making a new case: That its users’ data is ready to go public, too.
The gist of this new campaign is that Facebook, not Twitter, is home to the most important real-time conversations on the internet. This is counterintuitive for most people who use both services, and Facebook knows it. To whatever extent that there are important and centralized real-time “conversations” about news, politics and entertainment online, they seem to exist on Twitter.
Mr. Herman is talking about Facebook's announcement this week of two new APIs it hopes will push to center stage Facebook conversations on matters other than parties, kids, selfies and cats: the center stage in this case being Facebook media partners — Buzzfeed, CNN, NBC’s Today Show, BSkyB, Slate and Mass Relevance.
The two APIs — 'public feed' and 'keyword insights' — will let media organizations broadcast public Facebook conversations on trending subjects, aggregate "the total number of posts that mention a specific term in a given time frame and display these results based on gender, age and location."
Your public Facebook comments can now become part of any emerging news narrative.
Which I don't mind.
Assuming the conversations aren't manipulated to mutate the truth of a story — okay that is possible, if not likely, with some 'news' sources — they may add a little texture or heart, a bit of common sense judgment and some crowdsourced information, even knowledge.