Google Takes On Facebook’s News Feed

Written by Phil Birss: Group CEO.
· 4 minute read

Google, in its bid to compete with the likes of Facebook, has introduced a news feed to its website and app. Social media over the last few years has become an increasingly dominant source for news, especially amongst young people. It has been reported that amongst 18-24 year olds that social media has replaced television as their main source for acquiring news.

Facebook is the most popular social media platform amongst young people when it comes to attaining news, and now Google is competing by offering personalised news stories without having to sieve through your friends posts about how terrible a day they’re having or how they adore their pets. Google, based on your user history and by using a method called machine learning, offers news items that it believes will be of particular interest to you on a scrollable list.  When I looked on my news feed it came up with international news affairs and articles about Netflix, presumably based on me being a Guardian reader with an interest in world news, plus the fact that I spend an unhealthy amount of time on Netflix!

Google news feed

There can be drawbacks to a personalised news feed: sometimes Google may not provide you with news articles that you may actually want to see. For example, my news feed recently displayed an article about Game Of Thrones. Now, I’m a big fan of Game Of Thrones (so in that respect Google was spot on), however, the article was a spoiler (don’t worry- I won’t share it here!) so having that article (which I would never have searched for by choice) presented to me bummed me out a little!

There was also an article about Wigan Athletic that I didn’t want to see: I’m not a fan of Wigan Athletic, and to make it worse it must have come up because Wigan thrashed Chorley FC 14-0.  As Chorley is my hometown, you could say it rubbed salt to the wounds a little!

How To Make The Most Out Of Google’s News Feed

Luckily, you can remove any unwanted posts; just click the 3 dots symbol which will give you multiple options, such as removing any future posts from the source of the information. So if there is a news outlet that goes against your taste or preference, you’ll no longer see any posts (or, hopefully, spoilers!) from that particular news outlet.

google news feed options


Giving Google Feedback To Improve Their Service

In Google’s attempt to clamp down on fake news, it’s offering users the ability to highlight articles that they believe are a little suspect. So, for example, if you’re a Donald Trump supporter and spot something that you believe is untrue related to Donald Trump, you can report that particular news article as fake news. If you click ‘share feedback’, it will allow you the option to write feedback about a particular news post. This is an interesting feature that enables Google to provide a better service with more accurate relatable news for its users.


Customised Stories Tailored To You

Google allows users to create customised news feeds. This is great for the user as it will mean they are more likely to be shown stories they are actually interested in. To create personalised stories simply select ‘customise stories’. This will then take you to a screen that will allow you to search for, and add, topics that are of interest to you.

customise google news options


Additional Options For Customised Stories

Google allows you to add extra features in your news feed, such as the weather, flight information based on Google Flights, vegan recipes and much more. To get access to these features and tweak them so they are better suited to you, simply go on ‘customised stories’ and then scroll down and choose the options you’re interested in.

Google customise feed additional options


Will Google’s News Feed Ever Be Able To Take On The Social Media Giants?

It’s hard to know whether Google’s News Feed will become the main source of personalised news for users who at the moment get their information from social media platforms such as Facebook. Facebook has the advantage of knowing what people want to see through their Like History. This allows Facebook to better pinpoint and supply stories that are of interest to their account holders. However, Facebook’s news feed is often influenced by what your friends are interested in, whereas Google is all about you, providing you with stories based on your own search history. Time will tell as to whether Google’s feed will become a much-used and popular, especially amongst the younger audience.