Facebook today is rolling out a new program that will place messages at the top of your News Feed which prompt users to discuss and share moments that are happening in the world, including the holidays, as well as other historical and cultural moments. You may have already seen these large, colorful cards at the top of your News Feed wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving or reminding you not to miss the supermoon, in recent weeks. Now, these sorts of cards will arrive on a more regular basis, Facebook’s announcement indicates.
You can think of these cards as sort of like Facebook’s own version of the Google doodle.
The Google logo on the search engine’s homepage is regularly updated to reflect some notable event – sometimes it’s the current holiday, or often, a historical moment of importance that, when clicked, will take you to Google search results about the event.
Similarly, Facebook’s new moments are meant to increase engagement with the social network. The company says that they will help people discover important historical moments, cultural events, or give people a way to connect with friends during holidays and at other times.
Of course, this feature is arriving just ahead of the holidays here in the U.S., and is kicking off with holiday cards you can share with family and friends.
Today, at the top of the News Feed, you’ll see the option to select from one of 18 custom-designed holiday cards, including those that celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, as well as those that just celebrate the winter season, as with the card showing a snowman cookie, for example.
After selecting a card, you can optionally add your own message, then tag friends and family to share it in their Feed.
Facebook says more moments and events will roll out in time, following this initial launch.
What’s interesting about this new feature is that it’s being announced by Facebook’s CMO, Gary Briggs, and described as a new “marketing program.” That could imply the social network views this feature as something that goes beyond giving users a reason to share – it could possibly serve as a new, premium ad space in the future.
The company denies this, however. According to Stephen Rodi, Communications Manager at Facebook, “advertisers cannot sponsor these messages,” he says. “This is a brand and marketing initiative.”
The cards are available to all users starting today at 9 AM local time.