Facebook Wants To Help Publishers Fix The Mobile Reading Experience

  • Facebook’s chief product officer Chris Cox says the company is in early discussions with publishers about hosting their content and insists Facebook wants to be a partner not a conquerer.

    Facebook chief product officer Chris Cox at the 2015 Code Media conference.

    Asa Mathat

    Facebook is making a case to publishers that the social network can do a better job serving their content on mobile phones.

    That news comes straight from Facebook’s chief product officer Chris Cox, who talked at length about the effort during an hour-long interview with Re/code’s Peter Kafka Tuesday night at the Code/Media conference at The Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Niguel, Calif.

    “Reading news on a smartphone is still a really bad experience most of the time,” Cox said. “It’s slow, especially in the developing world, where it can take 30 or 45 seconds for a piece of content to load.

    “We want to try and make that a better experience for publishers.”

    What that would mean exactly is still unclear. Cox said talks with publishers are still in the beginning stages and that how publishers’ content would be displayed is still up in the air. He said publishers — he didn’t name any specifically — have been wary when first approached, wondering about Facebook’s motives and worrying about giving up control over their content, but that discussions have been positive.

    He said the move is part of Facebook’s effort to communicate more with publishers, provide them better publishing tools and in general be less of a “black box.” Prodded by Kafka, who asked tough questions about some publishers’ fears that Facebook would one day make their websites obsolete, Cox insisted that Facebook wants to be a partner not a conquerer.

    “We don’t want to try and devour and suck in the Internet,” he said.

    For more coverage of Cox’s interview, see Re/code’s live blog.

    About The Author

    Martin Beck is Third Door Media’s Social Media Reporter, covering the latest news for Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. He spent 24 years with the Los Angeles Times, serving as social media and reader engagement editor from 2010-2014. A graduate of UC Irvine and the University of Missouri journalism school, Beck started started his career at the Times as a sportswriter and copy editor.


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