Facebook has announced the launch of a new, more structured type of news feed. The service essentially categorizes information from the old feed into separate tabs, enabling users to view activity they find interesting rather than sifting through the clutter. The feed toolbar features four tabs at the moment, including feeds for top stories, status updates, photos, and posted items. Users are also able to comment on individual updates within each feed.
Though the content provided is nothing new, the structure and commenting capabilities open up entirely new possibilities for Facebook. For instance, the status feed could eventually become an aggregation point for status updates between Facebook and Twitter accounts. As more and more people connect their Twitter accounts to Facebook they will find that the status feed provides a much more manageable way to view a large amount of updates. Furthermore, the commenting system allows for a level of interaction that Twitter is yet to provide. It also enhances the photo sharing experience, which is arguably one of Facebook’s most attractive and successful features.
Though this is a breakthrough for Facebook, it only scratches the surface of what they could do with the news feed. A separate feed monitoring application use could increase the viral nature of apps and boost application development across the network. Advanced filters, allowing users to follow the activity of a select group of their friends or family, much like FriendFeed’s “Rooms” feed, could make the experience much more meaningful. There are loads of possibilities.
If the service ends up being a hit it will divert attention from personal profiles, and transform the Facebook experience to one of live updating; something that is very similar to FriendFeed. Facebook has started to resemble the social aggregating service more and more as of late, starting when they began to integrate items from social media sites like Flickr and del.icious a few months ago. Though the news feed is another step in that direction, FriendFeed still collects from a much larger array of services and provides many features that Facebook is yet to replicate. However, if Facebook continues to extend into this space then FriendFeed may need to revamp its service to avoid loss of new users. Until then all eyes are on Facebook.