Facebook Takes on Twitter with Real-Time News Feed: Reports

By Erin Harrison June 10, 2011

The hugely popular social networking website Facebook is testing a new functionality for users, which is said to be on par with Twitter’s “real-time” news feed, according to several media reports.

Facebook has confirmed it is in the alpha stages of rolling out the “Happening Now” feature, according to a Digital Trends report that cites a recent article by The Next Web.

The Happening Now feed is filled with links friends have posted that other friends like, according to Business Insider.

“It ends up looking a lot like a Twitter feed with a bunch of re-tweets in it. A re-tweet effectively does the same thing as ‘liking’ someone else’s link, shared on Facebook: share a link you like with others,” the report said.

The Happening Now feed is essentially an “at-a-glance” list of what the user’s friends are sharing, who they are adding as friends and displays check-in notifications, The Next Web reported. The feed is reportedly located on the right side the screen, displaying “real-time” updates below the advertising buttons.

Facebook officials told The Next Web the test includes only a “small percentage” of the site’s nearly 700 million users.

“We are currently testing a feature within News Feed that gives people the ability to see what their friends are commenting on and ‘liking,’ as these actions are being taken on Facebook,” a company statement said. “This test includes a small percentage of Facebook users, just a fraction of a percent. In the coming weeks, as we learn more from this test, we’ll keep making improvements and may expand it to more people.”

According to Facebook’s most recent statistics, the site currently has more than 500 million “active users,” who spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook. The average user creates 90 pieces of content each month.

Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company's strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TechZone360, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives

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