Two months after it duplicated Twitter's application of Hashtags, Facebook is now testing a feature that is similar to the micro-blogging site's "Twitter Trends", which displays the site's most discussed topics. The new feature, when implemented, will find a place on the top right corner of your Facebook home page. A spokesperson from Facebook confirmed the test to Wall Street Journal a few days ago.
"We are running a small test of a unit on News Feed that displays topics currently trending on Facebook," a company spokesperson told CNET. "Right now it's only available to a small percentage of US users and it is still in the early stages of development." The features has been designed to display the hottest topics that Facebook's 1.5 billion member user base is talking about.
These new developments form Facebook indicate that the social networking giant is trying to compete with Twitter to become the one-stop destination for live, real-time conversations online. Why? Well, if Facebook can manage to bring all these discussions onto its platform, it will have more to offer its advertisers, who would be very interested in an online demographic that's talking about current events. It could be anything from popular TV show episodes to sporting events and political developments.
At the moment, Twiitter's well organized hash tag and trending features allow it serve as an excellent platform for understanding social trends from around the globe. There have been several projects in the past like the Modd Map exhibit at Seoul University, which analyzed Twitter's data to express the mood of South Korea's online population with changing colors. There have also been several projects that have mapped the entire mood of the US during the country's last presidential election using similar techniques.
Currently, Facebook happens to be very good at its own game, which is, functioning as a social network. But the questions is if it can also offer a platform for live conversations and discussions like Twitter does?