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Guardian Launches Facebook App

The Guardian Facebook App
The Guardian Facebook App

Announced at the recent F8 conference in London, The Guardian has become one of 33 media brands, including Spotify and the Washington Post, to partner with Facebook to launch their own apps. The app, which has already been installed by over 400,000 users, allows users to read content in full from Guardian.co.uk through Facebook. The social network’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has said that the ‘new class of apps have the ability to not only change the way we think about news but have the ability to change the way the whole news industry works’ . Facebook insist that their goal is not to become the primary way people use the internet, but to make the internet a more social environment.

So why has the Guardian taken this step? It is not surprising that they are the first UK print brand to move to Facebook given their digital focus, and they see it as a natural partnership, with many people using both Facebook and guardian.co.uk, to condense the experience (for those whowant to) onto just one site. Users can utilise all of the social functionality provided by existing ‘Facebook furniture’ (the option to comment, share, like and see who has read which articles) which the Guardian hopes will see an increase in readers engaging with the content as well as making peoples’ reading experiences more personal and relevant.

Facebook’s ever expanding power to pull in users (over 30m in the UK) is a huge draw for content creators, and with Zuckerberg’s much heralded ‘frictionless sharing’ concept, it is easier than ever before to see what your friends have been reading, listening to or playing on Facebook. It means that by giving permission once (through downloading an app like the Guardian’s), users will automatically share all of their actions inside an app without Facebook asking for permission each time. On Facebook’s new ’ticker’, users will get real-time updates about what their friends are doing in these apps. This is described as the ‘social nudge’ which users will experience to see what their friends are reading. 95% of the time this shouldn’t be an issue, but can I really afford for my friends to see that I have been reading about the latest winter handbag trends? The official line from the Guardian is that if you don’t want people to know what you are reading, just use the normal website,  but the question here is whether people are clear about this default setting or not. If they’re not, then this could pose an issue and drags up privacy issues, again, for Facebook.

Controversial or not, this is another great example of how print brands are becoming more and more accessible and whilst this may ultimately not be the best solution, it is great to have pioneers like the Guardian who continue to explore and embrace the opportunities available across digital platforms. It is exciting to see quality journalism in a new environment and to see that amongst frivolous status updates and the latest drunken photos that thousands of people are spending time reading the articles. It is also an exciting development for advertisers, and the fact that the main age group who have downloaded the app is 18-24 opens great opportunities to reach young people in an environment where they spend much of their time. 


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