Facebook is continuing its rollout of shiny new things in the lead up to a big announcement at this year's f8 developers conference in San Francisco. In addition the new Subscribe button and Smart Lists, an upgrade to Facebook's News Feed is going to make the site start to look a lot newsier--and even more like Twitter. The new News Feed is going real-time with a new product called Ticker. Mark Tonkelowitz, the engineering manager responsible for the News Feed, explains in a blog post on Facebook:
Ticker shows you the same stuff you were already seeing on Facebook, but it brings your conversations to life by displaying updates instantaneously. Now when a friend comments, asks a question or shares something like a check in, you'll be able to join the conversation right away. Click on anything in ticker to see the full story and chime in--without losing your place.
Sounds a lot like Twitter's website, right? Facebook is also improving how it prioritizes updates in the regular News Feed with bigger photos in the feed and a Top Story feature that makes important updates stay at the top for longer.
The extent to which Tonkelowitz talks about the News Feed as if it were a publication is also worth noting. "Now, News Feed will act more like your own personal newspaper," he says. With the launch of WSJ Social, an edition of the Wall Street Journal viewable only on Facebook, falling on the same day as the rollout of the News Feed update, it's looking increasingly likely that Facebook's big announcement on Thursday will be a media coup that will affect not only Twitter but also personalized media startups like Flipboard and news organizations themselves. After all, the motto is "Read. Watch. Listen."