Facebook today rolled out a new interactive feature for Web site owners to embed alongside streaming video on their sites that will enable users of the popular social network to chat and post status updates during a live event.
Visitors to third-party sites will be able to log in to the new Live Stream Box using their Facebook Connect credentials, and any updates they post will sync back to their Facebook home pages.
Facebook is pitching the service to sites streaming videos of events like concerts, speeches and TV shows, noting that it could also enable users to interact during Webinars or even multiplayer online games.
The new feature continues Facebook’s efforts to establish itself as the hub of the real-time Web. In its March redesign, Facebook debuted a feature called the stream, where users were invited to post status updates in a format that bore an uncanny resemblance to Twitter, the white-hot micro-blogging site that Facebook tried, and failed, to buy last year.
The general availability of the Live Stream Box for site owners comes after a lengthy trial period Facebook began in January, when it partnered with CNN to allow users to chat and post updates while watching streaming video of the presidential inauguration.
“It was a significant moment for Facebook Platform,” Facebook’s Tom Whitnah wrote in a blog post. “We realized how powerful it was to see what your friends were saying, not just on Facebook, but right in context on CNN.com.”
In the months since, Facebook has tested the service during other high-profile events, such as the NBA all-star game and the Oscars.
But what about people who want to add a video stream to their Facebook pages?
Well, there’s an app for that. In a joint announcement, Facebook and Web video provider Ustream today rolled out a feature for brands and artists to build in Web-streaming capabilities to their Facebook pages, complete with all the real-time interaction they’ve come to love and expect from the social Web.
Ustream on Facebook places the new Live Stream Box alongside streaming video on a Facebook page, allowing, for instance, a band to stream a live performance and offer their fans a chance to interact.
Ustream let the Jonas Brothers kick the tires in May with a one-hour Webcast the company said attracted 974,000 unique viewers. More than 100,000 of those joined the Webcast after seeing a comment on a friend’s Facebook page.
Facebook claims the Live Stream Box is highly scalable, capable of supporting interactions among millions of users at the same time.
Facebook has set up an instruction page for developers looking to add the Live Stream Box to their sites.
Separately, Facebook also tweaked its publisher feature today, giving users more detailed privacy controls over who can see their status updates.