Where’s the Facebook RSS News Feed?
Yes, I know they have added a Status Feed, and a Notes Feed. But all that really demonstrates is that we know that they can produce RSS feeds.
The easy way out is to boil it down to money. My guess is, Facebook wants their millions of users to see the ads that Microsoft paid for, as well as advancing their Social Ad platform. That is certainly understandable; internet advertising is big money. But…
Shouldn’t (or maybe, at least, couldn’t) Facebook continue to be a pioneer of web technology as they did when they created the Facebook Platform for internet applications? While I probably overestimate the adoption of RSS, I think part of the reason for that is because, as it stands right now, there is no money to be made from it. The closest I’ve seen is Feedburner’s integration of Google Ads (and being as Feedburner is owned by Google, this is not a big suprise; Google has also provided integration of their ads into Blogger, as well as integration of Feedburner and Blogger). In Feedburner’s page about the Google acquisition, there’s this:
Google believes that feed-based content and advertising is a developing space where we can add value for users, advertisers and publishers.
Now, perhaps Facebook does see feed-based advertising as a space where they can add value for advertisers, and it’s possible that they’re working on it internally before revealing a solution publicly. But…
Facebook is going to let users insert additional RSS content into their News Feeds. Yee to the Ha. Let’s add a few more bricks to the wall around the garden. How about let’s work on getting my content out? If the Facebook argument for not creating RSS feeds from members’ News Feeds and Mini-Feeds is purely based on advertising, then how come they can’t:
a) Just keep putting those ads that are already in the News Feed into the RSS version of the feed, and/or
b) Insert ads at the bottom of RSS items as some publishers currently do
Now, I certainly understand that Facebook may be keeping the News Feed to themselves in order to keep members coming back to the site for reasons that are only tangentially related to advertising. The lock-in provided by making members come to the site to check the News Feed is something I can understand, but it also seems narrow-minded. If you can get people to subscribe to (or add to their My Yahoo) a feed that links back to your site, you will be feeding them reminders to go to your site more often than they’re likely to ever think of it themselves (yes, I know this doesn’t apply to that category of people who check obsessively, but I would still wager that aggressively encouraging the use of an RSS News Feed would actually increase the amount of traffic on the site).
The other advantage to such a feed is that, because it is connected to a network of a member’s friends, it’s unlikely that people would unsubscribe from it. Facebook already has the algorithm in place to sparsely populate the News Feed so as to not overwhelm members with News Items. (This would work well for RSS readers, but while I’m at it, I’d like to suggest that Facebook also offer an RSS version of a full News feed, for people like me who don’t have hundreds of friends, and want to keep track of more friend updates than just what is provided in the News Feed; but, really, that’s a whole different post)
So, really, the point of the post is this: WRT News Feed as RSS Feed… Make It Work.