Over the past year especially, "the homepage is dead" has become a standard line among media pundits. And more than anything else, it's Facebook that killed it.
Given that links appear to be more clickable when shared on Facebook, online publishers have scrambled to become savvy gamers of Facebook's News Feed, seeking to divine the secret rules that push some stories higher than others. But all this genuflection at the altar of Facebook's algorithms may be but a prelude to a more fundamental shift in how content is produced, shared, and consumed online. Instead of going to all this trouble to get people to click a link on Facebook that takes them somewhere else, the future of Internet content may be a world in which no video, article, or cat GIF gallery lives outside of Facebook at all.
The prospect of Facebook becoming the Internet's ultimate content cannibal got a big push earlier this week by New York Times media columnist David Carr. In his column Monday, Carr said Facebook is talking to some publishers about simply hosting their pages itself. Facebook's apparent pitch is it's already got a mobile experience users love, so why not cut out the extra click and deliver content more directly in a way audiences prefer? Oh, and Facebook will share the ad revenue.