Facebook testing real-time feeds

Last week it came to light that Facebook was testing real-time, ‘Happening Now’ news feeds – Twitter rip-off or smart new feature?

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Last week it came to light that Facebook was testing real-time, ‘Happening Now’ news feeds.

The ‘Happening Now’ feature will allow users to see what their friends are liking, commenting on and sharing in real-time, much like a Twitter stream.

It’s likely that the live stream will also serve other information including Places checkins, photo tags and events such as birthdays.

The stream is displayed as a side-bar on the right of the page, where sponsored ads are currently displayed.

As you can see in the screen grab below, clicking on a ‘happening now’ post will bring up a pop up page containing that conversation’s history. From here you too can ‘like’ or comment without having to navigate away from the news feed page.

Image credit – Daveinfo

We can’t help but wonder how this update (if it does come to light) will affect how ads are served on the site. One thought to spawn from a recent discussion here is that Facebook will slip ads into live feeds based on brand mentions, keyword relevance or location. Perhaps a little aggressive but could ultimately improve relevance?

Predictably, the response regarding the ‘Happening Now’ feed has been mainly negative – it’s been proven many times before that the Facebook community doesn’t bode well to change.

However, being an optimistic bunch here at Browser Media, we think Facebook is taking a step in the right direction. This new-style feed will make it easier to dip in to Facebook and scan recent news, meaning users won’t have to scroll through pages of junk in order to find something mildly interesting. Sounds good to us.

This live feed would also translate well to smartphones. Anyone who checks Facebook on their mobile will know how frustrating it can be waiting for pages of un-interesting content to load before finding something that may warrant a ‘like’ or comment. Being able to scan recent Facebook news in a Twitter-style stream and essentially pick out the interesting bits would definitely appeal to a lot of people – us included.

What do you think? A smart feature, or just a Twitter rip-off?

29 thoughts on “Facebook testing real-time feeds

  1. I have it and it’s absolutely terrible. It updates constantly on the screen with way, way, way too much information. I don’t want or need to know every single time my friends are commenting or clicking like on a status as it happens. It’s a huge distraction and hurts the eyes because the screen never stays stable for more than a few seconds.

  2. I too belong to the ones that were “chosen” to test ‘Happening Now’, and the screen you are showing here, only shows part of the truth. You forgot(?) to mention that you can see who’s photo/ status update/link/like your friends click on… even those who are NON-mutual.

    This little feature is a severe intrusion on EVERYBOD’S security and privacy settings since it overrides them all. It is also a violation to Facebook’s own privacy policy! Do I like it? No, I HATE IT!!!

  3. I am one of the unfortunate people stuck “testing” this thing.

    It seems to be in different formats for various testers. For me, the ads cover the bottom 2/3 of the streaming commentary which makes using the commentary as a way of searching my news feeds, impossible.

    You don’t mention that Facebook has added other annoyances to the homepage too. Facebook is monitoring who I interact with the most often and only sending me notifications when those select few post. Facebook also monitors who I chat with most often and only those people are listed in my chat menu, whether they are on line or not. What do I care if someone is NOT available?

    Another component of the live feed that you do not mention is that I can click on anything that any of my friends comment on and it opens right up. even if I am not friends with the other party. EVEN if the other party has blocked me. I can happily read conversations and look at pictures that belong to anyone at all. This last function is clearly a violation of Facebooks own privacy policy.

    There is a group of testers that have banded together to get the word out on how bad this “improvement is. For more information an opinions, you can find us at Happening Now Haters https://www.facebook.com/groups/219417451413093?ap=1

  4. I am part of the test group who is still subjected to the testing of this “Stalker” Feeder as it already nicknamed by some. From the link below it is real clear that the test group doesn’t like it at all. The main issue is that it violates all privacy issues in its current form and that FB doesn’t allow participants to give constructive feedback to FB. FB attitude towards the test subjects with regard this new “Happening Now” Feeder is totally unacceptable. FB might be the powerhouse in the social networking field for now but should they continue with the “dictatorial” approach, arrogant attitude and complete disrespect towards it’s test group and its customers, Google + might indeed become in the distant future the preferred social networking system.
    So in short I am for sure not a fan of the design. Time to cut its wings. So sad. I can think of much better ways to improve there current profile design without upsetting customers.

  5. I have had this for over a week now and it is driving me crazy. I can’t see Events, Birthdays, and Pokes on my Homepage and have to search for them and Game Apps. have disappeared . Also the continuous movement of the Ticker Bar makes me nauseous as I suffer from Vertigo. So I am not on very often because of this. No one was asked to volunteer for this trial it was just FORCED on everyone in it, without warning. Also the Privacy Issue comes into play here as you see what friends are posting on the walls of people you don’t even know and their replies. You can join others if you are having this problem on the Facebooks “Happening Now” Haters” you are not alone and lot’s of useful info.

  6. Two thumbs down! FB should ask for test users instead of just dumping this on people. It’s terrible and makes game play impossible. Furthermore, as usual with FB, they don’t seem to care about feedback. I’ve had this feature for 5 weeks and have sent numerous comments/ emails/ phone calls. If they can put you in the test group, why can’t they take you out? Personally, if they don’t take me out, I truly hope this feature is quickly rolled out to the whole FB community. Because then maybe the feedback will be heard! I hate it and want out.

  7. I already have this and its nothing like the author PRESUMES it will be.. It is awful, annoying and basically breaks privacy laws. I am seeing things I shouldn’t about people I don’t know. Its hard to navigate, immpossible to edit or filter… FB has also messed up the newsfeed, so we see less of some things, triple of other things, can filter nothing, can edit nothing… FB is telling US what we will view and not giving any choices… WRONG WRONG WRONG>!!!!!

  8. It is a terrible thing to have on a page. Yes, people always complain when Facebook has a change BUT this time the issue for many of the people used in the trial is the issue of privacy and being used in a trial without our consent. Firstly, the privacy issue is huge. I found during my time with the Happening Now ticker that I was able to open up the window for the conversation history and sometimes comment (if I wanted to) on pages of people I do not know. I don’t like the idea of having strangers able to see and comment on my page. If friend A wrote on their friend’s page who is not a friend to me, I was still notified by the ticker. To me and many others this is invasive.

    Also, logging onto Facebook to find this `thing’ on my page and other features missing with no explanation and no help in the help pages was so very annoying. I found the constant ticking an annoyance as I tried to see the rest of the page. Myself and others don’t want to know most of the things you listed. I don’t want to know what places they check into, or who is saying hi to their brother and so on. It is unnecessary information.

    Many people feel upset over not being asked to participate. Some people have serious health issues that the ticker doesn’t help with. It would be appropriate maybe to get permission to participate in a trial of this size and an opt out if we didn’t want to take part. It was thrust on us without any warning.

    I view it as a fail…..

  9. I was, unfortunately, chosen to participate in this trial. The information displayed violates Facebook Privacy, as in a friend will comment on a non mutual friends photo, and regardless of the non friends privacy settings, the photo and all comments become visible. Other information is redundant, as in numerous postings via apps, such as FarmVille. Again, postings are made via apps, regardless of privacy settings. It serves no useful purpose, not to mention being irritating, for me to see that a friend has commented on a non-mutual friends photo’s or app postings, or video/pic’s shared. I do not want Non-Mutual Friends to see anything on my wall/profile, therefore, until or unless changes are made to Facebooks new “Stalker Feed”, my use of their site will be extremely limited.

  10. I also have been “FORCED” it test this new beta roll out. It is the worse thing that has come down the road ever. On the left side I have lost the thumbnail pictures of my friends that are on and available for chat. All I have now is the little chat bar at bottom right, which use to show how many were there. ie chat##, now all it says is chat. On the right I have lost all my upcoming events, so I have missed birthdays and posted events from school. It has been replaced with a twitter wannabe scrolling mess that tells me every time a friend farts. I do not care about all that happening now, plus it is just repeated on my wall, which is my next complaint, the middle wall where you connect with friends. Usually at the top of the list were the most recent postings by friends. Now I have had the top post be anywhere from 1 – 20 hours old! The most recent posting is buried somewhere in the middle of the page.
    There are reports that users are losing the ability to chat with friends, loosing the ability to play their fav games and other items missing.
    This has been and is being forced upon people. They roll out a beta test capture lab rats to try it on then ignore their feedback. Facebook is hell bent on making this totally stupid “Happening Now” the way it will be. So why even ask for opinions? When you send feed back all you get is an auto-response from another computer, you never get a live response. I have sent many feedbacks to various FB pages and even called their complaint phone number, once again it just falls on deaf ears. And I know that I posted at least one response that facebook minions refused to post. They do not want negative feedback, so I guess they show no feedback on this matter. Why ask, facebook?
    If they force this upon the totally FB population there may be a mass exodus from FB to other social sites…Google + learn from FB’s mistakes.
    This is NOT a smart new feature! If I want Twitter I will use Twitter!
    BTW to the person that wrote this article. It does not make it easier to just “dip” into FB and scan recent news. The twitter feed along the right side is NOT scrollable, once a “tweet” falls off the bottom it is gone! How is that easier? When you to go to the “Most Recent” you still have the same stuff to scroll thur in the middle wall. Before making a comment that this sounds good to you, use it for a month or so, as many of us Lab Rats have.

  11. Over 1,900 unwilling Happening Now test victims have gathered on a FB to try and make the powers-that-be at FB understand how awful this program is to its users (http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/219417451413093?notif_t=group_activity). This “Stalker Feed” violates privacy, is intrusive and, most of all, unwanted. We have been trying every means at our disposal to have FB acknowledge their huge FAIL. Since they deem to ignore us it seems we have no choice but to move onto other avenues of protest. Many of us are now making a point to alert advertisers that WE WILL NOT SUPPORT OR ENDORSE ANY FB ADVERTISER until this stalker feed is removed. Any advertiser reading these comments is aware of the marketing demographics of FB. Are you willing to risk your profit in order to kiss FB’s ass?

  12. I was chosen as a test subject for the new “Happening Now” feature and i hated it …Mine is back to normal except for the chat feature… i have a twitter account that i havent been on for over 2 years..Why? Because i joined FB and found out how annoying Twitter is…Now FB is trying to force a twitter like stalker feed on us… I DONT WANT IT…. I also want the old chat back…It annoys me that i can see people i talk to on a regular basis even though they are not online but someone i only talk to occasionally who is online i cant see because FB has decided that i dont talk to them enough… If the people at FB are trying to stop their users from going to Google+ by making these changes- they are failing in a big way…They really should start listening to their beta testees to see how much it is hated

  13. Not only can you SNOOP on people, but now they can SNOOP on YOU. If you have any children, just remember, Charles Manson is watching. That should make you feel REAL safe.

  14. I absolutely do not like the “Happening Now” feature. Why weren’t we given an option to be included in the “testing”? It is totally distracting and takes away other features I like, such as birthdays, possible friends, and so on. I want out of this feature, altogether! To the powers that rule Facebook, please get rid of Happening Now or at least give us an option to have it or not to have, rather than just forced upon us.

  15. I want the old facebook back. I hate the new newsfeed. I think they should at leaast ask if you want to try it and if you don’t like it have the ability to switch back and give yout feedback

  16. To the person who wrote this article: don’t assume that those of us who were subjected unwillingly to the “Happening Now” test are resistant to change, if it’s for the better.

    There is nothing better about this!

    I had it for 3 weeks. Most recent was deleted, so all posts were a jumbled, non-chronological mess. Sometimes the twitter feed was scrolling, which repeated my posts, and also showed posts of friends of friends that I cared nothing about. And, you couldn’t stop it.

    When the twitter feed was gone, I was given events that had nothing to do with me. No birthday reminders, pokes, notifications. These things jumped back and forth for 3 weeks. No privacy, no way to give specific feedback, no ability to opt out.

    Try it for two or three weeks yourself and then join our group…happening now haters!

  17. I also have been one of the “chosen” ones, and I really wish they would change it back. It has been about a month for me and I HATE IT!!! I would like my game buttons back, and the birthdays and events and everything else the way it was, please change it back

  18. I hate the “Happening Now” feature. I was forced to test this as well and it is ruining FB for me. I can’t see Events, Birthdays, and Pokes on my Homepage and don’t care to hear about every time a friend does something on Farmville!! I concur with the comments about the inconveniences and negative effects described above.

  19. I think you people need to go back to your garden shed and potter around some more and learn how to research a story before publishing it. Instead of relying on some half baked Indian propaganda you should find users who have actually been sucked into this black hole of testing against their will with no way to provide feedback or opt out of the crap.

    I really couldnt care what a friend of a friend of a friend likes, doesnt like or plays. I certainly dont want them posting comments on my wall – but they can.

    And as for making it easier to scan for recent news and events – dream on. The freakin thing scrolls by so quick you end up so dizzy it hurts and god forbid you have a medical probem which is affected by flickering light. And with the changes to the Chat system the new chat list sits over the top of the Happening Now stalker feed and hides half of it.

    Even the gamers, which lets face it a lot of people only use facecrap for the games, are stuffed. Games no longer work properly either not loading at all or only loading partially making it impossible to collect gifts and awards. Money invested in thee games by users has literally gone down the tube – people are not happy.

    Facebook doesnt care about its users, and Mr Zucklepuck has been quoted as there is no privacy. Well he has certainly proved that with this piece or coding crap. No privacy for anyone. All these changes are being rushed out for one reason only – Facebook is scared shitless that people will see Google+, study it and realise that it is what Social Networking should be and pack up all their friends and leave.

    Now back to your garden shed, sign up for a course in journalism and study really hard so that one day you might make it.

    1. Dale,

      We are sorry that you feel so strongly that we deserve to be in a garden shed. We do not profess to be journalists, but were merely commenting on the new features that Facebook are trialling.

      As you may see from our parting sentence, we are interested in hearing what people think about the new feature and, judging by some of the passion that has subsequently been posted, I think that it would be fair to say that user feedback isn’t great and it is a Facebook fail.

      It depends on your definition of journalism, but we are pleased to see that the post raised the debate and touched on a subject that clearly affects people…

      Thanks for your feedback.

  20. I too have been chosen to be a facebook guinea pig and let me tell you they shouldnt call it happening now they should call it stalker feed and it stinks majorly I hate it and want it gone

  21. Facebook sucks. End of story. The scrolling happening now is annoying and frustrating. Grrr grr and grr! I want it removed!

  22. Twitter is something that people *choose* to put out to others, this feed feature grabs every bit of activity from all my friends, what they commented to friends whom I do not know nor have a connection with, and puts it ALL on my feed page. It locks up my whole screen, I cannot scroll at all, and cannot scroll through lists of who is online to chat any mroe, the feature completely locked up that side of the screen. FB fans could adjust to change well IF they were considered in the least bit. Facebook keeps saying they’re making things a more social experience, but if they listened to their users, what they WANT is the ability to keep information private, not to take it all and slam it on to everyone’s feed page.

  23. Hate it. Wish FB would figure out how angry users get at being forced into all of these “improvements” on an ongoing basis instead of being honest and announcing each one; allowing users to opt-in if they want to. Transparency and freedom to choose, not stealth and heavy-handed bullying, Facebook; you should try it, it’s good business.

  24. Over one month ago I noticed that something was wrong with my Facebook home page, I posted a bug report to FB and never got more than the auto reply. The feed got progressively worse to the point my top news was 5 days old. I was invited to the Happening Now Haters group. That was when I found out what FB had done to my account without my knowledge or consent . Let’s be clear up till then I’d been having issues playing the games on FB and was getting extremely frustrated with Zynga for poor game play. Then I found out this was all FB and their lovely Beta testing. I got a very lengthy message from my mother who wanted to know why I was filling her home page up with crap ..(she doesn’t play games}. Then I found my posts are not going to there appropriate places if at all. I have a messed up home page , can’t play the games I like to relax, and my family and friends are pissed at me..And the icing on the cake MY ACCOUNT WAS HACKED TWICE in the last 2 weeks…Happening now is not a improvement it is a open sesame for every criminal and pervert there is out there. I Absolutely despise it and want my privacy back with my old trusty account not this bloody STALKER FEED.

  25. Can’t say anything different from what all the others have posted except for this:

    Facebook needs to remember that the one of the reasons it got so popular in the first place is because people were sick of all the crap Myspace was putting out. Everyone jumped that ship and we can do it again.

  26. I have had this “Happening Now” thing on my page for about 2 weeks & I HATE IT! If Facebook decided to use people to try out new things we should ,at the very least, be able to opt out it! I dont appreciate my privacy being used as a “guinea pig” and I am really upset at the gull you guys have to even do this! I am seriously thinking about leaving Facebook as a show of my disapproval of such practices. If I wanted to see a “Twitter”-like feed, I would be on Twitter & not Facebook! It should really be taken off, or we should have the option to at least TURN IT OFF, DAMMIT! good day!

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