Facebook tests a Twitter-like feature to encourage more conversation

Facebook really wants you to know what your friends are talking about.

Facebook makes a habit of borrowing features from Twitter such as hashtags, a live feed, verification badges, and followers. Now, the company is testing a new feature that is about as close as Facebook could get to creating a version of Twitter.

The new feature is currently dubbed “What friends are talking about” and is being tested with a small subset of users. It was first spotted by Mashable on Friday in Facebook for Android.

“What friends are talking about” appears toward the top of the news feed as a module “roughly the size of one image post,” according to Mashable. The module contains short snippets of several individual posts (about a sentence each, based on Mashable’s screenshot), as well as the number of comments on each post. Presumably, tapping a post snippet takes you directly to the original post.

The impact on you at home: As this is a small-scale test it’s hard to say whether this will become a mainstream feature. That means if you’re one of the lucky few who’s already seeing “What friends are talking about,” don’t count on its remaining in your news feed forever. It does seem like a useful feature, but it’s not clear why Facebook wouldn’t just highlight the same posts at the top of the news feed. Perhaps the company believes the new module will create a higher level of engagement than listing the same posts in succession.

Mashable wonders if the new feature is part of Facebook’s push to prioritize posts from friends and family over those from brands and Facebook pages. It’s also not clear whether that’s the case, but the new feature certainly appears to line up with that goal.

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Ian Paul

Macworld.com
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