As detailed by Mashable earlier today, Facebook is testing out a version of the social news reader that inserts popular stories into the news feed of users. Swallowing up a significant amount of screen space, the new ‘trending articles’ format displays five recent news stories that are popular with friends. Each story includes a large graphic, title, description and the name of the friend that read the article. If multiple people have read the story, Facebook will display all friends that used the social reader to check out that specific news article. The block of five stories dominates the opening portion of the news feed and pushes friend updates further down the page.
While this new format is likely designed to help news organization increase readership, the amount of screen space taken up by stories could annoy some users. It’s also possible that users could be annoyed by the types of stories that appear within the new content block. However, if a user’s friends aren’t reading any stories through the various social news readers on Facebook, it’s unlikely that any stories will appear within a news feed. According to a statement released by Facebook, the company is currently testing a variety of ways that users can discover news content from sources like the Washington Post, Yahoo! and The Huffington Post.
As mentioned by Inside Facebook earlier today, the ‘trending articles’ news feed widget has been added to the mobile version of Facebook as well. Rather than consume vertical screen space on a smartphone, the user can swipe to the left and right to view more stories. Similar to the format within the Web version of Facebook, the user sees a related picture from the article, the title of the article, the source and a picture of the friend that read the story.