Facebook takes a magazine touch to the newsfeed

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Facebook will start rolling out its much discussed standalone newsreader app Paper on Feb. 3, and its introductory push began this morning.

In their big cover story interview with founder Mark Zuckerberg on his company’s 10-year anniversary (Hed: "Facebook hits puberty”) for Bloomberg Businessweek, reporters Brad Stone and Sarah Frier wrote, " If Facebook is the Internet’s social newspaper, Paper strives to be its magazine: photos, friend updates, and shared articles show up in an image-heavy, uncluttered way."

In other words, while early reports pegged Paper as a Flipboard-like news sharing app, it looks to be more of a rethinking of how to present the flow of information that one gets in his or her Facebook newsfeed — that, yes, borrows some of the visual language of Flipboard. There are no buttons. Users navigate via swipe and tilt.

As with any good tech product worth its salt these days there’s a naturally lit, swelly strings-soundtracked introductory video this morning.

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"The stories are picked and ordered based largely on how much they are shared and ‘liked' on Facebook, with a team of human editors ensuring that the content comes from the right sources,” the pieces’ authors wrote.

Unlike Facebook acquisition Instagram, Paper will still require users to login with their Facebook accounts. Though, the piece noted, Zuckerberg is slowly shaking his longtime allergy to anonymity -- partly due to competition from less restrictive competitors like Snapchat and Twitter — and later apps from its creative labs may not be so strict.

“We just think that there are all these different ways that people want to share, and that compressing them all into a single blue app is not the right format of the future,” Zuckerberg told the magazine of its development.

Company executives are managing expectations with such new products, after earlier flops that included Home and Poke. Still, Facebook can afford to experiment. It counted $780 million in profits in its most recent quarter and counts cash reserves of $11.45 billion.

The early buzz this morning looks positive. Reviewing the app at The Verge, editor Dieter Bohn suggested that it may one day outpace Facebook’s own.

"If Paper does score a slot on your main home screen, another app will probably have to be buried away somewhere else,” he wrote. "For a lot of people, Facebook itself will be a prime candidate.”