New feed aims to turn network into entertainment destination, while Spotify is also expected to launch a streaming app.
Facebook will on Thursday unveil a real-time stream of what its users are watching and listening to online, turning the social network into a key entertainment destination on the web.
The social network will introduce the new “ticker” stream alongside partnerships with major media companies at its f8 conference in San Francisco.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg will unveil the changes as part of a “read, watch and listen” theme at the conference on 22 September.
Zuckerberg is also expected to introduce changes to the “Like” button, allowing developers to create their own verbs such as “Want”, “Desire” or “Need”.
Early suggestions indicate that music will be central to Facebook’s announcements, with Spotify and the video site Vevo believed to be introducing apps that will allow listeners to stream songs without leaving the site.
Film and TV streaming sites, as well as some newspapers, are also expected to unveil new Facebook products at the conference.
The announcements form part of Zuckerberg’s vision of building a “social web” where users interact around all websites, online films and music. It builds on the introduction of the several tools for sites at last year’s f8, which Facebook claims has driven a fourfold increase in traffic from the social network to media sites.
Facebook’s 750 million users will be able to automatically share activity such as viewing, listening and reading in the live “ticker” stream, once they have opted in to the feature. The new stream will be separate from the existing Facebook news feed, although popular items – such as the most frequently played songs among friends – will appear in the column.
The world’s most popular social network has stepped up its offering in the past year – adding 250,000 new active users – in the wake of increased competition from Facebook and a new rival in Google+.
Facebook last week unveiled two changes to the way its users interact on the site, a move seen as a direct response to Google+ and Twitter. Andrew Bosworth, director of engineering at Facebook, told the Guardian on Friday that the changes predate the launch of Google+, but said that the social network – now valued at $65bn on venture capital funding – “constantly feel like we’re moving too slowly”.
While Facebook is keen for its users to stay on the site for as long as possible, Zuckerberg has consistently emphasised that the site is a “distribution platform” to other media companies.
According to Facebook’s own referral figures, the Independent’s website has seen a 680% rise in traffic from Facebook over the past year. Britain’s biggest newspaper website, MailOnline, saw referrals from Facebook increase sixfold when it introduced the “Like” button across its website.
Facebook had not returned a request for comment at time of publication.