Last week it came to light that Facebook was testing real-time, ‘Happening Now’ news feeds.

The ‘Happening Now’ feature will allow users to see what their friends are liking, commenting on and sharing in real-time, much like a Twitter stream.

It’s likely that the live stream will also serve other information including Places checkins, photo tags and events such as birthdays.

The stream is displayed as a side-bar on the right of the page, where sponsored ads are currently displayed.

As you can see in the screen grab below, clicking on a ‘happening now’ post will bring up a pop up page containing that conversation’s history. From here you too can ‘like’ or comment without having to navigate away from the news feed page.

Image credit – Daveinfo

We can’t help but wonder how this update (if it does come to light) will affect how ads are served on the site. One thought to spawn from a recent discussion here is that Facebook will slip ads into live feeds based on brand mentions, keyword relevance or location. Perhaps a little aggressive but could ultimately improve relevance?

Predictably, the response regarding the ‘Happening Now’ feed has been mainly negative – it’s been proven many times before that the Facebook community doesn’t bode well to change.

However, being an optimistic bunch here at Browser Media, we think Facebook is taking a step in the right direction. This new-style feed will make it easier to dip in to Facebook and scan recent news, meaning users won’t have to scroll through pages of junk in order to find something mildly interesting. Sounds good to us.

This live feed would also translate well to smartphones. Anyone who checks Facebook on their mobile will know how frustrating it can be waiting for pages of un-interesting content to load before finding something that may warrant a ‘like’ or comment. Being able to scan recent Facebook news in a Twitter-style stream and essentially pick out the interesting bits would definitely appeal to a lot of people – us included.

What do you think? A smart feature, or just a Twitter rip-off?