Facebook is now testing out a new feature to encourage conversations on the social network. Much like Twitter, the social media giant is testing out a feature that will compile friends’ posts into one box. Titled “What friends are talking about,” it can be spotted in some Facebook News Feeds on the Android version of its app.
A report indicated that users on other Facebook platforms might also have seen the new feature. The option basically aggregates posts that Facebook thinks the user will like and will position them in a panel just below the top of the News Feed. The number of comments per post will directly be visible, letting friends know whether it is a particularly popular one.
Unlike Twitter’s version, Facebook’s “What friends are talking about” limits the number of recommended posts it shows, as per Mashable’s screenshot. This is useful because it ensures that the post does not entirely overpower the News Feed, as is the case with Twitter. The micro-blogging site gives credence to posts that the user might like and miss while he or she was away. However, the Tweets appear to go on and on, often requiring the user to scroll for a considerable while before the chronological timeline becomes available.
Facebook keeps testing out new features from time to time, often limiting the tests to a certain area or demographic segment of the population. It is not clear whether any particular demographic segment was targeted with this new Facebook feature. That said, the social media giant has made a point to improve communications between friends and family after having earlier focused on enhancing the presence of advertisements and news sources on its network. The tech giant earlier clamped down on clickbait in the News Feed and has made an effort to make the social media service more about connecting people again.
The change is welcome, and it is refreshing to see Facebook sticking to its roots about connecting people. With the advent of chatbots and the increased presence of businesses even on Messenger, it seemed like the social network was giving more priority to sources of income instead of actual people.
That said, the latest feature perhaps enforces Facebook’s own opinion on users. If its users end up depending on the new feature to quickly catch up with their News Feed, they might miss out on something useful that they might otherwise have caught had they scrolled through the News Feed. The feature threatens to promote cliques on the social network, and Facebook will want to be wary of its algorithm displaying posts by the same friends with the new recap feature.
Facebook has amassed an impressive number of monthly active users, but that also threatens to alienate users who preferred the social network to interact with a close group of friends. Snapchat arguably serves that purpose better now, while Twitter is good for general commentary on live events happening in the country and around the globe. Facebook is perhaps trying to enforce its image as the social network of choice for consumers. That said, much like other features that are tested out, these features might not even see the light of day.