Facebook tests 'presence dots' in News Feed to push messaging

Why navigate to the sidebar to start chats when you can message your online friends right from News Feed?

Jennifer Van Grove Former Senior Writer / News
Jennifer Van Grove covered the social beat for CNET. She loves Boo the dog, CrossFit, and eating vegan. Her jokes are often in poor taste, but her articles are not.
Jennifer Van Grove
New from Facebook: Presence dots on News Feed posts indicate when friends are available to chat. Screenshot by Jennifer Van Grove/CNET
Facebook is reminding people that they can -- and should -- message their friends by inserting a chat status icon into News Feed.

The company is nudging some members to message their online friends by indicating chat availability with a green dot, officially called a "presence dot," alongside status updates in News Feed. The tiny addition lets people click the green dot to initiate a message thread.

"This is a limited test putting presence dots on News Feed posts to indicate when your friends are available to chat," a Facebook spokesperson confirmed to CNET. "We are testing on desktop only at this stage."

Facebook's message is clear: Don't forget to message your friends. They're here and available, remember?

The social network has more than just an active interest in hawking its messaging products. Keeping members tied to its messaging products on desktop and mobile is a business necessity at this point, particularly as standalone messaging apps gain in popularity and siphon teen attention away from Facebook.

Chat Heads may represent Facebook's most aggressive ploy for messaging attention, but the News Feed push shows that the company believes constant reminders can't hurt.