What is Facebook’s ‘Happening Now’ Anyway?

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Scott Bair

Facebook has begun testing a new feature called "Happening Now" so users can keep up with friends with real-time updates, reports said today.

The “Happening Now” sidebar sits on the right side of a user’s news feed, displaying real-time updates below dedicated spots for advertising, according to The Next Web. The sidebar gives users the chance to see how their connections are interacting with one another without having to look far from their main feed.

"We are currently testing a feature within News Feed that gives people the ability to see what their friends are commenting on and 'liking', as these actions are being taken on Facebook," Facebook told The Next Web. "This test includes a small percentage of Facebook users,  just a fraction of a percent. In the coming weeks, as we learn more from this test, we’ll keep making improvements and may expand it to more people.”

(However, a bug has already been found by the few Facebook guinea pigs -- it lets those with the "Happening Now" feature bypass some privacy settings to see user content without permission.)

Obviously Facebook has finally wised up to the fact its "Top News" setting on the news feed seems to be mostly filled with "news" that's a few days old. If users don't repeatedly manually refresh to "Most Recent" they may miss out on seeing most of the status updates in the last 24 hours. (We have changed settings to "Most Recent" on our news feed and still encounter "Top News" periodically.). The "Happening Now" feature seems to be trying to mitigate that problem -- but we can't help but think Facebook would have been better off scrapping "Top News."

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