On Sept. 22 the Post unveiled Social Reader, a Facebook app that offers a socially powered newswire filled with great content. We also included a large group of partners, ranging from Reuters to WetPaint.com, so that readers could get a vast array of stories to chose from and share. Ask the Post has received a number of questions concerning how we drive people to Social Reader. One person wrote in to say:
I’m an avid Washington Post reader and Facebook user. Unfortunately, I have a policy of not accepting any apps on Facebook because of the amount of information that would be shared about me. I regret the WP’s decision to require the App in order to read other people’s links. I followed those links on a daily basis. Now I can’t. I hope you understand that a lot of people don’t accept apps for the same reason and that you are excluding us.
Let me address a couple issues raised by this reader by first explaining that we’re not requiring anyone to use the Social Reader app. When a user clicks a Washington Post link on Facebook – whether it’s on the Washington Post Facebook page or it’s a story that their friend posted to a newsfeed – we’ll pop up a box that asks if you’d like to read the story in the app or not. If you “cancel” we’ll then take you to WashingtonPost.com to read the story.
You won’t be asked again to use Social Reader. If you accept, we’ll ask you to follow a simple process that gives you access to the Social Reader app. Furthermore, if you start using the app and decide it’s not for you then you can deactivate it. The steps to do this are listed here:
1. In Facebook, click the down arrow in the upper right corner
2. Account Settings
3. In the menu to the left, click Apps
4. Locate Washington Post Social Reader and click the X to the right.
5. You will get a notification that the Washington Post Social Reader app has been removed.
Since Social Reader is an experiment to understand how people consume news on Facebook, we’re trying to direct people to the app – voluntarily of course – where it makes sense.
We’re following a pretty simple rule: if a Washington Post link is posted on Facebook then we’ll give users the option to the read that story in Social Reader or on washingtonpost.com. We’re also doing this for links in the Network News boxes on our site. Why? Well because the information in Network News is served up via Facebook through an iframe. Essentially when you’re looking at who is recommending content in the Network News widgets you’re looking into a window of activity on Facebook.
Katharine Zaleski is The Post’s Executive Director of Digital News.