This was the year social networks turned into news organizations | Gigaom

Some good analysis on the shift that culminated this year in social networks feeling ‘different’ than before:

[S]ocial networks don’t need writers to surface their best content. They can collect it themselves.

That’s what many decided to do this year. Reddit created a publication called Upvoted to highlight the stories that propagate on its service. Twitter introduced Moments to aggregate tweets about breaking news and entertainment alike. Snapchat got into the news business during the San Bernardino shooting. This was the year social networks tried to establish some control over social media.

The distinction here between social networks and user generated content (i.e. social media) is important. The two are often conflated. Social networks are large organisations that either already have shareholders, or are pre-IPO. That means they need to maximise perceived value and monetise users wherever they can:

[T]he underlying goal is the same: Gathering user-generated content before writers aggregate it themselves. So I’m left to wonder when other social companies will get around to creating their own publications instead of waiting for writers to swoop in, gather all the free content lying around, and turn it into something that could lead to millions of pageviews.

At the end of the day, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, a loop that users can choose to be part of. Or not. I’m less interested in social networks as sources of user-generated content for platforms than in all the other ways they can be used.

Aggregating content from social networks has created a weird loop that takes something from those networks, puts it on another website, and then inevitably shares it to the same networks and other platforms. (I, and probably many other Redditors, encounter many links to BuzzFeed stories containing jokes I read a week ago.) These efforts are merely the result of social networks closing the loop.

I’m left wondering what the next iteration of ‘social’ apps, platforms, and sites will look like. Because it looks like the bottom is likely to fall out of social networks as we currently know them before 2020.