Facebook is dead set on breaking through our news biases and popping our filter bubbles. Now, in a new attempt to expand our horizons, the company is taking a page out of Twitter’s playbook by rolling out a new feature that’ll show you posts from strangers.
The new feature is called “Latest Conversations” After searching a news topic, Facebook will now display public user generated posts from users outside your own personal network, along with a live ticker estimating the number of people engaging with the topic.
Trending topics are much more engaging with the new feature.
The “Latest Conversations” tab shows up beneath the Photos and News sections when you search for something on Facebook. It’s a nice touch to watch the number of people in the conversation rise and fall — if you sit long enough, you might conceivably watch a trend rise and fall before your eyes.
That said, the posts might not necessarily give you a deeper understanding of the topic at hand. My experience using the feature was filled with results rife with misspellings, profanity, and languages I couldn’t read. But at the very least, the new feature does help contextualise the scope of the conversation taking place around a topic.
Not every topic is given the “Latest Conversations” treatment, though — and the attention might only last as long as a trend is hot. For instance, the term Lonzo Ball in the search above was popping when I first found the feature. But when I checked back about 20 minutes later, the conversation counter had closed. It’s unclear what qualifies a search topic for “Latest Conversations,” or if they’re manually selected or generated by an algorithm.
A Facebook spokesperson confirmed that the new feature is more than just one of the many A/B tests that crop up from time to time on the network.
“We’re rolling out a new section in search results that will show the most recent public posts about timely topics that a lot of people are discussing on Facebook,” they told us via email, with no other comment.
The social network also confirmed that it’s testing out a new “Topics to Follow” feature for the News Feed in an attempt to broaden perspectives on less pressing matters, potentially taking the focus away from moderator-managed Pages.