Facebook offers real-time feed of user data to online and TV news

Facebook launched two APIs to allow news organisations to include user comments

Facebook revealed a new tool that enables news organisations to tap into user comments and display them online or on TV in real-time.

The social network launched two tools on Monday, the Keyword Insights API (application programming interface) and the Public Feed API, it said in a blog post.

The Public Feed API displays a real-time feed of public posts for a specific word, while the Keyword Insights API aggregates the total number of posts that mention a specific term in a given period, Facebook said.

The keyword API is also able to display anonymous, aggregated results based on gender, age and location, the company added. A TV show can for instance use this option to include how many people on Facebook talked about a topic and show where they are located while showing if it is most popular among men or women and in which age groups, Facebook said.

The public feed API will only gather public posts. If a post is not public it will not be shown, a Facebook spokeswoman said in an email. She compared the feed to similar services provided by Twitter. News channels often use public Twitter messages during their broadcasts.

If someone doesn't want a Facebook message to be used in the new feed, the proper audience for the message can be selected when posting it, she said.

Access to the APIs is starting today for a limited selection of news organizations including Buzzfeed, CNN, NBC's Today Show, The Economist, Slate, and Sky TV in the U.K., Facebook said.

"For example, CNN's New Day can now easily incorporate what people on Facebook have to say about the latest, breaking news event during their show," Facebook said.

Facebook will also offer the service to some of its "preferred marketing developers." It named the first of those as Mass Relevance, a social engagement platform for discovering and filtering content, which will use the new tool to highlight trends and conversations for its media clients, according to Facebook.

The tool will be made available to additional partners in the coming weeks, the spokeswoman said, but she declined to say who those additional partners are.

Facebook has been rolling out a series of products over the past few months to track popular conversations on its platform, including hashtags, embedded posts and trending topics. Last week's kick-off of the National Football League (NFL) season in the U.S. for instance garnered over 20 million likes, comments, and shares on Facebook by over 8 million people, it said.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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