Facebook extended access to its Mentions app today to all users with a verified profile on the platform, enabling them to live stream videos and monitor discussions around certain topics, among a host of new features.
Journalists with verified profiles can now download Facebook Mentions from the App Store and start experimenting with tools such as live video, Q&As, monitoring mentions of their byline, publications or stories, and also see what's trending on the social network and who is talking about it.
Facebook Mentions was released last year to public figures with verified pages, intended to help them manage their presence on the platform.
The team has since been working on introducing additional features and gathering feedback from beta testers, including journalists, about the app's functionality.
Live video has been a feature on the app since August and journalists such as NBC's Keir Simmons have already been experimenting with it.
"One of our beta testers described it as a collaborative effort of storytelling, where you're able to show [the audience] something and get feedback instantaneously and respond to them through that live video," said Vadim Lavrusik, product manager on Mentions.
"We've also seen people using it as a tool for Q&As with their readers, so they want to have a conversation around a story that they're covering and answer reader questions – or as a form of transparency, telling the story behind the story," he said.
After the livestream has ended, the video is saved to the users' profiles and appears in their friends' news feed the same way as other video uploads.
Live streaming through Mentions, image courtesy of Facebook.
The Mentions feed could also be a helpful newsgathering tool. Its default view allows users to monitor both mentions of their name on the social network and discussions around other topics they may be researching for a story.
The feed also includes a Trending tab, for finding out which subjects are trending on Facebook and who is talking about them.
Tapping on a trending topic leads users to a page where they can see public posts about the subject.
Lavrusik told Journalism.co.uk the feed does use an algorithm to rank posts in order to show the verified accounts at the top, but the results include unverified Facebook accounts too.
"We think that this is actually going to be a great tool for journalists to see not just what's trending on Facebook, but being able to even get sources that are talking about these trending topics and get ideas for story angles," he said.
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