Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Huffington Post and Facebook Go "Social News," With Connect on Steroids

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In an unusually robust collaboration using Facebook Connect, the Huffington Post is launching a feature on Monday called “HuffPost Social News,” which lets readers create a personalized social networking-like news page on the Huffington Post itself.

While the Huffington Post had already been using Facebook Connect since January–which allows readers of the site to log in using their Facebook identity to interact, which is mostly used to leave comments–this use essentially takes Facebook Connect and puts it on steroids.

“We are looking at HuffPost Social News like a ‘digital water cooler,’ because we see news going in that direction,” said Huffington Post Editor-in-Chief and co-founder Arianna Huffington, in an interview with me this weekend. “We did this because we are interested in real identities having real conversations about news.”

While the use of “social news” will be seen by some as simply a clever PR term, this kind of innovative deployment on the Huffington Post is actually a very big step for the site, especially as an opportunity to bind its readers to it more closely, presumably increasing engagement and traffic.

“This is a natural way to expand into the Facebook community and give users who desire to engage and comment with friends more privacy,” said Huffington Post CEO Eric Hippeau, with whom I also spoke earlier today. “And, like a lot of other sites, we are trying to make our site more attractive to marketers who want to engage with engaged users.”

Hippeau said he hopes that will lead to more advertising spending, although the first focus is to get people using it.

Such a move is an interesting one for Facebook too, since it is getting unusual prominence and much deeper integration on a popular news Web site, well beyond how other sites are using Facebook Connect.

If it works, HuffPost Social News will give it even more content flowing into its service, a direction that was also underscored by Facebook’s recent $50 million purchase of FriendFeed, the online content-sharing site.

Goosing interactivity and engagement is a big aim for Facebook and also lots of news sites, such as the Huffington Post.

While there are about 1.7 million comments on the site monthly, for example, if users sign up for HuffPost Social News at large rates, that could expand a lot.

This will be done via the special page, as well as a large module on every Huffington Post page you visit showing what your Facebook friends who also sign up for HuffPost Social News are posting, what’s most popular in your network and on the site itself.

As is usually the case with Facebook Connect, you can decide what is sent back to Facebook and can also hide your movements from HuffPost Social News by going into a “stealth” mode.

If left turned on, though, it captures your every click on the site, including what you are reading–which means my social site should constantly be filled with news of Britney and LiLo.

“HuffPost Social News finds your Facebook friends who are also reading HuffPost and links you together on our site so you can dive deeper into the stories you like best,” wrote Huffington in a blog post to readers of her site, which you can read in its entirely below. “The explosive growth of online social networking has fundamentally changed our relationship with news. It’s no longer something we passively take in.”

You can see that in action below on a page I created and also my module (click on the images to make them larger):

Main Personalized Page

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Module

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And here’s the official press release from the Huffington Post, as well as two blog posts on the subject by Arianna Huffington, one for her site and one for Facebook:

THE HUFFINGTON POST LAUNCHES NEW COLLABORATION WITH FACEBOOK–HUFFPOST SOCIAL NEWS

SOCIAL NEWS PLATFORM COMBINES POWER OF FACEBOOK WITH HUFFPOST CONTENT AND COMMUNITY

Aug 17, 2009–(New York, NY)–The Huffington Post (“HuffPost”) announced today the launch of HuffPost Social News, a collaboration between HuffPost and Facebook® that connects HuffPost users with their Facebook friends, the news they are reading and the stories they are commenting on. Through its integration of Facebook Connect, HuffPost Social News seamlessly combines the news and opinion of HuffPost with Facebook’s user experience and power to connect people.

“I’m excited to announce the launch of HuffPost Social News,” said Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post. “This new platform lets our community of engaged users easily share stories and post comments for friends to see–it’s HuffPost’s version of a digital water cooler, enriching and deepening conversations around the day’s news. Social media has fundamentally changed our relationship to news. It’s no longer something we passively take in. We now engage with news, share news, react to news–news has become something around which we gather, connect, and converse. HuffPost Social News makes this more dynamic than ever.”

Said Eric Hippeau, CEO of The Huffington Post: “Our goal is to make HuffPost Social News the go-to place for Facebook users to share news–both the stories they love and the stories they hate–with friends. It should also appeal to marketers interested in reaching passionate, savvy readers who care about the news and who want to share their interests with friends.”

Said Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook: “The Huffington Post has led a revolution in how people discover and consume news. With the integration of Facebook Connect, HuffPost Social News is now leading the way to make news even more of a social experience, giving people new ways to share and filter news and current events through their networks of friends on Facebook.”

HuffPost Social News allows users to increase their presence on The Huffington Post by automatically creating personalized profile pages that keep track of all their HuffPost Social News friends. At the same time, users retain complete control over what stories and comments are shared with their Social News friends, as well as what is posted to their Facebook Wall, and into their Facebook stream. Users can also see how their friends are voting on HuffPost polls and their contributions to “Eyes & Ears,” Huffpost’s citizen journalism platform.

Said Paul Berry, Chief Technology Officer of The Huffington Post: “From the first brainstorming session in Facebook’s office to the integration of Facebook Connect, it has been truly exciting to collaborate in building this product. The future of news is social, and I’m tremendously proud that HuffPost has been so early in reaching this important milestone in how news is shared online.”

Your HuffPost Experience Is About to Get a Lot More Social!

I’m excited to announce the launch of HuffPost Social News–a collaboration with Facebook that connects HuffPost users to their Facebook friends, the news they are reading, and the stories they are commenting on.

When you sign up for it–and I hope you will right now–HuffPost Social News finds your Facebook friends who are also reading HuffPost and links you together on our site so you can dive deeper into the stories you like best. (But don’t worry, you’ll still have complete control over what stories and comments are shared with your friends, as well as what goes on your Facebook wall, and into your friends’ news feeds.)

The explosive growth of online social networking has fundamentally changed our relationship with news. It’s no longer something we passively take in. We now engage with news, react to news, and share news. News has become an important element of community–something around which we gather, connect, and converse. And we can all become part of the evolution of a story now–expanding it with comments and links to relevant information, adding facts and differing points of views.

HuffPost Social News makes this easier and more dynamic than ever. It takes social news to a whole new level. It will turbo-charge your online conversations and connections, and allow you to build and develop a community that follows what you read and care about.

Thanks to your passion and commitment, HuffPost has an incredibly active and vibrant community. You posted over 1.7 million comments on the site last month alone–with many stories attracting more than 10,000 comments. The one drawback: it’s sometimes hard to keep up with it all.

With HuffPost Social News, you can be sure that your comments won’t get lost in the mix–and that the people you care most about will see what you have to say about the stories you love or are angered by, delivered in real time. And you’ll be able to easily and immediately see who is replying to any of your comments. Of course, your comments will still appear on the full thread, so anyone reading HuffPost will be able to see them.

HuffPost Social News also taps into the other coming big trend in news: personalization. People connecting to each other using their real identities and having real conversations.

HuffPost Social News allows you to have a greater presence on our site by automatically creating personalized profile pages that keep track of all your HuffPost Social News friends–collecting all the comments you have made and the stories you have read, as well as the comments made and stories read by your friends. Think of it as HuffPost’s new digital water cooler.

HuffPost Social News is just one early piece of the social transformation of the news industry. We will be adding more social features and personalization in the coming months. The news is simply more interesting and engaging when we experience it with friends. It is an exciting change and we are thrilled to be part of it.

Sign up here to get started. And let us know what you think. HuffPost Social News is your Huffington Post.

The Future of News Will Be Social

Arianna Huffington is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, a nationally syndicated columnist, and author of 12 books. With HuffPost launching a new social news feature today using Facebook Connect, we asked her to share her perspective on the ways social media is shaping the future of news.

Despite all the current hand-wringing about the dire state of newspapers, we are actually in the midst of a Golden Age for news consumers. We can surf the net, use search engines, access the best stories from around the world, and interact by commenting and forming communities.

The days of publishing pooh-bahs dictating to us what’s important and what’s not are over. We now can get the news we want, when we want it, how we want it and where we want it. The Web has given us control over the news we consume. Now the explosive growth of online social networking is fundamentally changing our relationship with news as well. It’s no longer something we passively take in.

We now engage with news, react to news and share news. News has become an important element of community–something around which we gather, connect and converse. We all are part of the evolution of a story now–expanding it with comments and links to relevant information, adding facts and differing points of views. In short, the news has become social.

And it will become even more community-powered: stories will be collaboratively produced by editors and the community, and conversations, opinion, and reader reactions will be seamlessly integrated into the news experience.

I’ve always been obsessed with news. As the daughter of a newspaperman, I grew up with the smell of newsprint and the buzz of breaking news. I’ve also always enjoyed bringing people together from different parts of my life and facilitating interesting conversations.

In the past, these have taken place around dinner tables, on group hikes or at book parties. Now, via cyberspace, those conversations have gone global. And they are happening in real time.

One of the reasons we launched The Huffington Post was to enhance and facilitate those conversations. While our goal was to create a one-stop spot for news and opinion with an attitude, community has always been a key element of the site. The launch of HuffPost Social News today brings together my two loves:nonstop news and the passionate discussion of the news with my friends.

Using Facebook Connect, HuffPost Social News weaves the news and opinion of HuffPost with the social capabilities of Facebook. It connects HuffPost users to their Facebook friends, the news they are reading, and the stories they are commenting on.

Want to know what your friends are reading? Check out their Facebook-powered stream on HuffPost and the personalized Social News widget that appears as you navigate the site. Want to see your friends’ comments above the thousands of strangers commenting on a story? Log in to HuffPost Social News using Facebook Connect and that happens automatically.

HuffPost Social News also taps into another big trend I see emerging in news: personalization. People connect to each other using their real identities and have real conversations. HuffPost Social News is just one early piece of the social transformation of the news industry. We will be adding more social features and personalization in the coming months, and I expect to see news organizations around the world doing the same.

The news is simply more interesting and engaging when we experience it with friends.


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