For years the Internet has allowed information to travel faster than ever before and the next step in this evolution of news media is real-time information. Twitter, as a result of its quick and consistent posting platform, is already popular for offering real-time content. Now Facebook is also looking to compete in the real-time market by acquiring SportStream.
Although the technology behind SportStream has made its real-time capabilities structured for sports fans, it could be modified by Facebook for other general news topics. According to Facebook, the acquisition will allow it to aggregate, filter, and display real-time data by looking for posts about a sports topic around its service.
Facebook has been losing some of its popularity particularly because people view Facebook as less than adequate for real-time posting. Twitter, on the other hand, has grown to include hundreds of millions of users simply because its posting structure is geared toward providing a service that the average young person enjoys.
Twitter is inherently better for real-time information and it has built upon that capability by acquiring companies and programming a series of new features into Twitter. Now that Facebook has lost some of its users to Twitter, the social network seems to be taking a couple pages out of Twitter's playbook.
As far as startups go, SportStream is still very young; it has only been around since June 2012. The startup has focused on aggregating posts from various sources and compiling them into real-time feeds that can be personalized for its users.
Unlike Twitter, which has compiling features concretely built into its main service, Facebook will likely have to alter the way that its news feed works to take advantage of SportStream's technology.
Perhaps one of the most important parts of Twitter is the hashtag, which functions as a way for people to categorize their posts. The hashtag system surely has its flaws, but it has been successful thus far, resulting in Facebook's decision to copy Twitter's categorization system by implementing hashtags into its own service.
Along with the introduction of hashtags, Facebook has also focused on trending topics as a way to get people involved in a global or national discussion. As it is far more "private" than Twitter, global conversations cannot occur as easily but at the same time, Facebook has begun to radically change its network in order to integrate many of the things that have made Twitter popular.
In September, Facebook began offering select news organizations the ability to use Facebook discussions for real-time comments about various topics and the acquisition of SportStream will directly build on those real-time topic-based discussions. If SportStream's technology becomes useful, Facebook may actually reach its goal of allowing users to connect over "shared interests."