The product, which is reportedly in “alpha” stage testing as part of the company’s Facebook for Business initiative, would allow users to follow specific topics and receive instant alerts of up to 100 characters of text when a breaking news event occurs.
According to Business Insider, which first reported on the app’s existence, the new app will be a specifically broadcast-only experience, limiting the ability to create alerts to specific partnered companies.
Nonetheless, the move shows Facebook squaring up to the competition from Twitter, which is generally perceived to have a strong lead in handling live events.
Unlike Facebook, Twitter’s product is built around a reverse-chronological feed, where the newest updates are presented at the top. That contributes to the service’s notoriously bad experience for new users, since it makes no effort to distinguish between interesting or important content and banal status updates. But the upside is that it means that breaking news events surface rapidly on the social network, allowing them to become the focus of conversation.
While Facebook takes tips from Twitter, the reverse happens just as frequently. Twitter has long hinted that it envies the ability of Facebook to curate what users see, and with experiments like the Discover tab, has made overtures towards implementing similar features. But users have repeatedly expressed concern that what makes Twitter unique might be erased in the process.
Facebook’s breaking news app would be the latest addition to the site’s rapidly growing portfolio of apps. As well as the main Facebook app, the company also produces Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp, as well as smaller apps like Hyperlapse, Slingshot and Groups.
This article was written by Alex Hern, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 12th August 2015 12.48 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010