Facebook today announced Save, a new feature meant to help its users keep lists of articles, places, and other miscellanies in sync across all of their devices. The feature will be rolling out to the company’s mobile applications and website in the coming weeks. But will anyone use it?
Much of the content shared to Facebook isn’t worth saving for later. Even worse, Facebook’s News Feed algorithm tends to surface what a less dignified writer might call “snackable” content, like celebrity news and listicles, over more substantive articles. As Pando’s David Holmes wrote in response to a study claiming that people share more news articles to the network than they did before, most people are really sharing quizzes, linkbait, and other content meant to be consumed that very moment, not things worth saving.
In some ways, this means that Save is similar to many of the fitness products available today: it’s appealing to whom we wish we were instead of to whom we really are. Everyone wants to think of themselves as the type of person who reads the morning paper and knows what’s happening in the world around them, just like everyone wants to diet and exercise. It’s a nice thought, but in reality we’re all just eating Twinkies and taking BuzzFeed quizzes.
Saving other things, such as noteworthy locations or movie releases, makes a bit more sense. Facebook users often follow pages for films or television shows, and our obsession with sharing where we’ve been on social media has almost reached the point of self parody. Being able to save virtually anything might actually make all of those vacation photos or inane updates from a bored social media manager for “Sex Tape” more useful than they’ve been in the past.
But it’s hard to think of a reason why the average person will want to use Save, and it’s even harder to think that anyone familiar with Pocket or Evernote will use an inferior service that doesn’t allow people to view saved items without an Internet connection. Not that any of this matters; as others have pointed out, Save is tucked into a section of Facebook’s mobile applications that most users are probably never going to find or care about. It’s just another throwaway feature.
That’s a shame, because I suspect that Save is the result of Facebook’s acquisition of Spool, a save-it-for-later service that was doing something quite interesting before it was shuttered in 2012. We could have gotten a unique service that presented a viable alternative to other tools meant to save the Web’s miscellanies for later viewing. Instead we got Save, which is probably going to linger for a little while before being thrown into the trash heap with Facebook Poke.