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Yahoo looks to Facebook to power its news service

Serves up content your friends like
Fri Sep 23 2011, 13:48

WEB PORTAL Yahoo has integrated its news service with Facebook to serve up customised news story suggestions.

Yahoo's news service, which aggregates articles from a number of different sources, now integrates with Facebook in order to show what articles have been read by those on your friends list. Underpinning all this is an impressive backend, which Yahoo calls Mixer, that connects to Facebook.

The idea behind Yahoo News' Facebook integration is to present content that it says has been picked by "social editors" - your friends on Facebook. Yahoo claims, "The deep integration with Facebook offers an immersive social experience on Yahoo News so people can discover and connect around the news and information they are enjoying on Yahoo! seamlessly through updates on Facebook."

Yahoo's system automatically jots down what articles have been read by which Facebook accounts and uses this information to recommend content. The system has some pretty impressive performance requirements, such as Yahoo wanting to serve up a list of stories based on Facebook data within 250ms. That figure might sound high, but given the amount of data Yahoo will have to mine and the number of requests it will have to handle, consistently meeting that goal is a tough task.

Facebook has, for the most part, been working with Bing for its various search engine tie-ups. Microsoft has a small stake in Facebook and the two firms are pretty cosy, whereas Yahoo has seemingly let the social networking boom slip by. But this should help Facebook find out even more information about what people get up to when they're not on Facebook.

Yahoo's news service powered by its social editors didn't come soon enough to spare ex-CEO Carol Bartz. However Yahoo will need more than just a fancy news aggregation service if it is to compete with Google once again. µ


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