Facebook tests turning comment reels into message threads

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Comments on Facebook posts can get quite chatty, so Facebook is trying a new way to help you keep up. Some users now see comment reels appearing as persistently visible chat windows that pop up on their desktop versions of the site, just like traditional message threads. 

TechCrunch reader Russell Smith sent us this screenshot. Facebook confirmed to us this is a new feature test on desktop for a small number of users.

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Screenshot of Facebook comments appearing as message threads. Names and faces blurred out by TechCrunch for privacy.

A Facebook spokesperson wrote to us:

“We’ve heard from people that they would like an easier way to participate in conversations on a post while they are still in News Feed so we are testing a new option that opens up a window when someone comments on your post, replies to your comment or tags you in a comment. You can always hide the conversation or turn off notifications from within the dropdown menu of the post.”

To keep the feature from getting too noisy, if someone only comments on a thread you’ve already commented on, the message thread will appear minimized rather than overlaid on your Facebook screen. Still, the feature could annoy some people trying to get on with their News Feed browsing.

On the other hand, this savvy growth hack could help Facebook feel more lively and draw users back to the service. The chat windows make it easier to send rapid-fire comments, which will trigger notifications for other users on the thread, luring them to engage. It also sets up conversations in Facebook Messages that people couldn’t have on SMS or another app, strengthening Facebook’s position in chat.