Twitter has become the de facto source of real-time social conversation, and Facebook isn’t too happy about that.
The company announced two new APIs this week that are available for a limited group of media partners — APIs that let those companies tap in to the real-time conversation that happens on Facebook.
The Public Feed API includes a real-time feed of public posts about a specific word. So CNN, one of the first partners, could begin to show Facebook status updates that mention “Syria” if it wanted to — just like it’s able to show tweets including a certain hashtag.
The Keyword Insights API aggregates all the public posts that include a specific term and shows the results anonymously with gender, age and location information. With this, for example, CNN could show viewers how people in different parts of the world, or of different ages, feel about Syria.
All of this is the kind of stuff that major media outlets have been doing with Twitter for a few years now. But Facebook wants a piece of that action. As Justin Osofsky, Facebook’s VP of Media Partnerships wrote yesterday:
We are committed to building features that improve the experience of discovering and participating in conversations about things happening in the world right now, including entertainment, sports, politics and news.
Facebook’s launch of hashtags, and its ongoing tests of how to display and encourage hashtag use are part of this same overall effort. Facebook has touted recent studies that suggest a correlation between Facebook activity and TV viewership.
Why? Primarily because there’s a lot of advertising income to be made by being part of the real-time social conversation and tying it to major media outlets and major news events. And obviously there’s a strong desire not to cede this aspect of the social network landscape to Twitter.