Facebook Replacing News Feeds with Real-Time Status Streams

Facebook is taking a cue from Twitter and retooling its home page to include real-time status streams with advanced options for customization. The change was announced at a media event at Facebook's Palo Alto headquarters Wednesday.

The New Home Page

The updated home page design, set to go live by the middle of next week, is anchored by the newly named Stream (previously known as the News Feed). The Facebook Stream shows your friends' activity as it occurs, with automatic refreshing built into the page. The status update box, now branded as Publisher, simply asks: "What's on your mind?" Any text, photos, or video entered into it go straight into your profile and onto your friends' home pages at the same time.

The revamped page features added filters as well. The filters give you greater control over what you see in the Stream, letting you choose to see updates from only specific users or specific sources. If you'd rather not see content that comes from particular applications, for example, you can opt to filter it out.

As projected earlier, Facebook also revealed plans to tweak its company-created "fan" pages. Those pages will now mimic the look of personal profiles, allowing companies to send status updates and other information directly into users' streams without previously imposed restrictions.

Expanding Options

The changes are the latest efforts by Facebook to expand its offerings and match features made popular by other online social services. Just last month, the site introduced the ability to "like" your friends' content -- a concept most often associated with social aggregation service FriendFeed. Add into that the launch last December of Facebook's Web-wide sign-on system, Facebook Connect, and it's easy to see how near-ubiquity could be right around the corner. The company's recent handling of an intense debate over its privacy terms only adds to the positive (albeit nearly hampered) momentum.

Recent estimates put Facebook far ahead of the rest of the pack when it comes to social network traffic. Some analyses show Facebook drawing double the traffic of its nearest competitor, the much more seasoned MySpace. Even the co-founder of MySpace's original parent company is now calling the race in Facebook's favor.

User: Facebook. Status update: Darn near domination.

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