Replacing Facebook news with RSS feeds


Facebook have begun blocking news in Australia in response to some poorly-conceived, bipartisan legislation. My views of the company, and the politics that lead to this, are beyond the scope of this post. Instead I want to help people who might have relied upon Facebook for news, and offer a far superior alternative.

RSS is a decades-old technology built into most news sites and blogs. You subscribe to these in an aggregator, which let you read news as you would have on a social media platform. You can think of it as email for news, though other ways of presenting the information exists.

It’s simple to use. Sign up for a platform such as The Old Reader or Feedly, or download a program like NetNewsWire or Thunderbird. These tools will have an option to “add” an RSS feed. Most are smart enough to detect it if you give it a news site, such as:

RSS icon from the Gnome Colors project

Another option is to look on pages for the word “Subscribe”, or for an icon similar to the one on the right. These contain a link you can paste directly into your aggregator. For example, the SBS News website has a subscribe page listing feeds for a number of different topics.

If you need help, here are the state government health departments that are publishing RSS feeds. Right-click these links and choose Copy to get the link you need:

(The Queensland, Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia health sites don’t publish RSS feeds that I can see, which to me is a clear breach of their accessibility guidelines. I’ve sent them feedback, but in the meantime you can read the news directly on their sites).

And here are some common news sites. If you don’t see the sites you read listed, you can probably still paste their home page URL into your feed reader.

Please contact me on @Twitter or send me an email at me at rubenschade dot com (not spelled out) if you need help.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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