Social media’s changed how users consume content. In the past, we’d read a few news websites or top blogs, and our trust came from those brands. However, with the rise of social filtering and tools like Facebook and Twitter, more and more of our news comes from our friends, who share what they find interesting. This is part of why retweeting and link sharing has become such a hot trend.
Google Reader, the most popular tool for reading RSS feeds, recognizes this phenomenon. In May, they launched a friends trends tool to help you determine who was worth following, but that’s nothing compared to the changes that Google’s making today: it has added the ability to follow specific users and to “like” articles.
There are really three big feature changes: followers, friend groups, and likes. On the first feature, Google has the following to say:
“Instead of sharing your items with others and hoping they reciprocate, you can now find people with public shared items and subscribe to their shared items with one click. Use our new Reader search feature (powered by Google profiles) to look for people who have public shared items. You can browse by name, location, or topic, and start following new people all from inside Reader.”
In short, you can follow not only an RSS feed or a specific blog, but individuals as well. This isn’t personal updates like the ones you find on Twitter, but the sharing of specific articles (so more like a retweet).
The second feature is friend groups, which we compare to Facebook’s privacy settings. You can set which group sees what content. You can share those dating blog posts with just your closest friends and change it so that comments, a previously integrated feature, are only viewable by friends as well.
Finally, likes is almost identical to the feature available on both FriendFeed and Facebook. You can pick any article and “like” it. The key to this, though, is that liking is public to everyone, thus we could see a lot of favoriting by a lot of people very quickly.
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