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data feed

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

A data feed is an ongoing stream of structured data that provides users with updates of current information from one or more sources.

A data feed may stream continuously or be delivered on demand. Data feeds make it possible to have new content or updates delivered to a computer or mobile device as soon as it is published.  The same technologies are also used to supply data to other software.

Facebook’s News Feed is a commonly-seen example of a data feed. News Feed pulls items from status updates, photos, videos, links, app activity and likes from people, Pages and groups the user follows. Items in the feed may be self-contained or summaries that include links to further information.

There are many other types of data feeds, including news, weather and sports updates, content publication feeds and Twitter timelines. In a security context, threat intelligence feeds provide organizations with constantly updated information about potential or current attacks that could pose a risk to their business.

Data feeds are often described in terms of their methods of delivery. RSS feeds, for example, use an XML-based file format to deliver content from multiple sources to users. An RSS aggregator or RSS reader allows the user to see summaries of all their feeds in one place. Atom, an alternative, open-source specification, provides similar functionality.

This was last updated in November 2015

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