Facebook hosting 'biggest developer party yet' at Google I/O

The largest social media network on the planet is preparing for a rather mysterious event where an unknown new product will be launched. The Facebook invitation comes in the form of a simple, small letter, saying that a small team has been working on a big idea, which should be unveiled on June 20 at Menlo Park California.

Coming shortly after the company’s official introduction of clickable hashtags, which now allow users keep up with trending topics without actually following the news constantly, there are some speculations about what will actually be announced next week.

TechCrunch revealed that there appear to be signs of a new RSS feed reading service embedded right in Facebook’s Graph API code. The developer who made the breakthrough stated that when he tried to run the code, results appeared restricted only to whitelisted addresses. Moreover, the nature of the API code describes a connection from a Facebook user to an RSS feed, a feed which has multiple entries and subscribers.

Pairing this with fact that Google’s famous Reader service is going to be discontinued on July 1 makes this rumor quite plausible.

Facebook and RSS feeds

facebook letter

Facebook’s invitation letter for the upcoming event – Source: CBS Interactive

After Google announced it’ll kill its famous RSS feed reading service due to usage decline, various companies including Feedly, Digg and NewsBlur tried to seize the opportunity. Feedly, for example, got a massive rise of traffic with over three million new users creating an account after Google’s announcement. It’s hard to even think of why Google chose to close this product, as it looks like a worthy potential still exists for such services.

Well, that potential will probably be picked-up by companies like Facebook. In order to keep its users even longer on the site, the social media network may add an alternative way for users to consume content. In my opinion, the introduction of a streamed timeline was the first step into this direction, users being able to view each and every entry in a chronological order.

Speculations claim that Facebook’s RSS reader could be implemented as a different section inside the website.

Facebook could also announce a massive update to its existing service, Notes, in order to steal some numbers from Tumblr. The interesting part is that an upgrade of this scale would require a feed reader to extract and provide content.

Facebook already has some experience with RSS services, introducing back in 2011 the “Subscribe via RSS” feature which was later replaced by the “Follow” feature. RSS still exists in the current release but the process of creating a unique RSS feed for one user implies several steps.

On the other hand, we know that reading feeds is not a mainstream habit and it’s something only used by vivid media content consumers. So, deploying such a service may cause confusion in Facebook’s camp – there are plenty who do not know what an RSS feed actually is, so why even bother? Also, Facebook may be already a bit late, as plenty of users switched to other feed serving engines once Google broke the news of discontinuing Reader. And that happened three months ago.

Do you read RSS feeds and if so, would you even consider Facebook for that in case this rumor turns out to be true?

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