Facebook Shows Friend Log In Counts, Passive Aggressively Nudges You To Post

Facebook appears to be testing a new feature — a counter at the top of your news feed (right below the “update status” box) that tells you either that “X friends logged in recently” or “Your friends haven’t seen a post from you for X days.”

The new features were spotted by Techie Buzz and also tweeted by Huffington Post senior editor Craig Kanalley. I’ve emailed Facebook for more details, and I’ll update when I hear back.

TC reader Tim O’Neil says he has also seen a different version of the update status prompt: Instead of the usual “what’s on your mind?” he saw “start a conversation”. Since Techie Buzz has spotted different messages in the same location on the news feed, this is probably just a limited test of different ways for Facebook to encourage users to stay engaged and post more content. (At first I was going to call this a “ploy” for more engagement, but then, it’s not really a ploy if you’re asking directly, is it?)

The risk, of course, is that the site could come off as creepy or annoying. On other hand, maybe people will react to these messages the same way I react to my more passive aggressive friends: “Okay, fine, I’ll post an update! Just shut up about it, will you?” I’ve emailed Facebook for more details, and I’ll update when I hear back.

Update: Another little Facebook change aimed at getting your to interact more with your friends: the hovercards you see when mousing over a friend or Page’s name are now much bigger and show their Timeline’s cover image as well as their occupation and geographic network; or Page category, location, and friends who’ve Liked. Those Timeline photos specifically could get you to click through and leave some Likes that will  notify that friend and get them to revisit Facebook, or publish news feed stories about your interaction with a Page which Facebook can make big money on through Sponsored Stories.

Oh, and here’s Facebook’s comment: “We’re constantly testing new features and have nothing more to share at this time.”

[top screenshot via Craig Kanalley]