Facebook’s ‘Read. Watch. Listen.’ announcements mark a turning point for the site

facebooksign

In case you haven’t noticed, a veritable slew of new features and updates to old features have hit Facebook this week. First, a quick recap before we get into the context of what it all means:

Subscribe: Now regardless of whether you’re  friends with a person on Facebook, you can subscribe to their status updates. It’s similar to Twitter, where you can follow whoever you want and it doesn’t necessitate a two-way relationship.

Lists: In an attempt to bolster privacy features and cut-down on the unorganized mess better known as the News Feed, Facebook renewed its focus on lists. Smart Lists now automatically group friends according to proximity and school, and a few other pre-sets offer suggestions to group them into lists like Family, Close Friends, and Acquaintances. You’re also free to make you own lists, and each has its own News Feed.

New News Feed and the ticker: The updated News Feed categorizes stories based on how often you visit Facebook and includes a blue icon on things it considers top stories. The ticker allows you to interact with friends’ activity via a rolling, ever-updating bar so you don’t have to leave the home page.

And of course, there’s what Facebook is due to announce once f8 actually begins: Some big changes to the Like button. Apparently there will be buttons that now say “read,” “want,” and “need.”

Pair all this with the fact that Facebook’s event will follow a theme titled “Read. Watch. Listen.” and it’s beginning to look like we’re witnessing a massive step in the site’s evolution. Facebook is about to become a media site.

This has been in the makings for awhile and isn’t all that surprising. Facebook has been priming itself to be more than just a platform for posting pictures and talking to your friends: It’s about monetizing and distributing content. Any why shouldn’t it be? That’s how the site will continue to make money. Profits from advertising are one thing, but having an actual business model that turns the site into something that distributes various goods for revenue is something else entirely.

Part of tomorrow’s announcements will include the fact that Facebook is partnering with various media companies that follow along with “Read. Write. Listen.” “Read” will relate to its deal with Yahoo, “Watch” with a host of video streaming sites, and “Listen” its much-anticipated music service, which will likely integrate a variety of music applications like MOG and Spotify. This is a little outside of Facebook’s typical comfort zone. The social media giant isn’t one to enter into big partnerships like these, although we had warning this was coming when Mark Zuckerberg said the site wanted to build on top of itself with the best the Internet had to offer.

sharingAt that same event, Zuckerberg talked about how Facebook had become a huge platform for sharing content. Originally, the site was about communicating with your immediate social network, and along that line it became about distributing information that’s interesting to you (which might be a Twitter effect, but something Facebook’s still obviously capitalizing on). At the time, the Facebook CEO presciently said the site was done measuring its effectiveness by user numbers. “I think that chapter is more or less done,” he said, pointing out that the value people get from a product, the apps they use, and how much they are sharing via the site are more important.

And that’s why it isn’t surprising that Facebook is taking this new route. But what are the consequences? Well, for one, the site is less personal that it used to be. This has obviously been happening for awhile, and we will give Facebook points for attempting to keep our social networks social via Lists. Admittedly, it’s the best way to actually see updates from those you consider close contacts.

In fact, all the new features just introduced and previously explained are more like an acquiescence on Facebook’s part. It’s like the site knows it’s about to do something that will dramatically change its core and these additions are attempts to keep part of what it used to be alive. The Lists and News Feed revamp and ticker are all applications that connect you to who you want to be connected to –- not what you want to be connected to. These friend-centric features may offset the effects of integrating with the likes of Yahoo, Spotify, Rdio, Vevo… this list has a lot of potential and is only going to grow.

Reactions will be what they always are: Outrage followed by acceptance. But the social network is still an ill-defined thing that is being thrown in a lot of different directions. Sites like Instagram, Tumblr, and Posterous are having an effect on what this platform looks like, and Facebook continues to try and innovate here.

The best way to summarize the change is that users are no longer sharing what they’re doing. Your Internet history is sharing what you’re consuming.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Movies & TV

Dear Hollywood overlords: Please don’t turn the Oscars into the Grammys

With more than five million fewer viewers than a decade ago, the organizers of the Academy Awards are adding a “popular films” category in an attempt to capture more eyes. Here’s why we think that’s a terrible idea.
Mobile

Apple releases sixth public beta of iOS 12, sans Group FaceTime

At this year's Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple unveiled its latest operating system, iOS 12. From app updates to group FaceTime, ARKit 2.0, and more, here are all the new features in iOS 12.
Movies & TV

Got questions about Hulu and Hulu with Live TV? We've got answers

Not sure which Hulu subscription is right for you? We're here to help. This is your complete guide to Hulu and Hulu with Live TV, including content offerings for each service, pricing, internet requirements, and more.
Social Media

Facebook’s less cluttered friend list feeds are no more

Facebook friend feeds created a more curated news feed -- but not anymore. Facebook discontinued the feature, saying it wasn't widely used. The move will help the network focus on improving the news feed, the company says.
Mobile

Swapping an iPhone for a BlackBerry made me appreciate the physical keyboard

BlackBerry is preparing to release the BlackBerry KeyTwo, a new phone with a physical keyboard. If you've never used one, and are a touchscreen typist, what would it be like to swap? We changed our iPhone to a BlackBerry KeyOne to find out.
Smart Home

4 reasons my love affair with Amazon is fizzling

I used to be an avid Amazon shopper. But some things have happened recently that’s made me question my loyalty to the retail giant. And to be honest, I’m not sure if I can trust them any longer.
Mobile

iOS 12 is more evidence you should buy an iPhone, not an Android phone

The next version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 12, will be compatible with devices all the way back to 2013’s iPhone 5S. Android phones from the same era didn’t even see 2016’s software update. It’s further evidence you…
Computing

Can we get an apology? Two big MacBook fails that Apple should fix at WWDC

WWDC is just around the corner, but if you're hoping for a new MacBook Pro, don't hold your breath. Even though it'll probably only be a CPU bump, there are two significant problems with the current MacBook Pro that have been ignored for…
Smart Home

Is Apple showing up late to the smart home party, or just not coming?

Apple’s WWDC 2018 featured a lot of little announcements, but what was largely missing was news on the smart home front. Is Amazon planning on being late to the smart home party, or are they planning on attending at all?
Mobile

5 obviously stupid iPhone problems that iOS 12 doesn’t even try to fix

At WWDC 2018, Apple took the wraps off the latest version of its iOS operating system. iOS 12 introduces quite a bit of changes -- visually and under the hood -- but there are still some basics that it doesn’t address. Here are a few of…
Health & Fitness

Ugh. I’m done with fitness trackers, and so is the world

In 2016, everyone was tracking their fitness. In 2017, people grew tired of it. In 2018, I’m done with it. I’m going tracker-free in my workouts from now on.
Computing

MacOS Mojave brings evening elegance to your Mac experience

The MacOS Mojave public beta is out now, with an official release coming later this fall. Chock-full of quality-of-life upgrades, we took it for a test drive to get a sneak peek at what you can expect from the next major update to MacOS…
Gaming

Google might be planning a game console. That doesn’t mean it will happen

A new report suggests that Google is working on a game console, code-named Yeti. The reports about Google's game console are likely true, but that doesn't mean we will ever see it.
Home Theater

Why I still won’t wear wireless headphones

Wireless headphones promise liberation from cords, tangles, and snags, but there’s just one issue holding them back: battery life. And until manufacturers figure it out, sales numbers prove consumers aren’t yet biting.