Facebook has acquired a San Francisco-based start-up whose app enables users to analyse data about social media mentions of sport.

The company, known as SportStream and founded 18 months ago, specialises in scouring social media networks, including its own, for mentions of sporting events and teams.  

The firm's application searches Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and news sites to compile feeds of information on certain teams or games. It then offers this to clubs and media partners, via an API. The service is currently used by the likes of Liverpool FC, the Seattle Seahawks and Ask.com.

The acquisition could therefore make it easier for Facebook's media partners to find posts about sport on its website and use them in their content.

Facebook - which did not reveal how much it paid for the start-up - has recently taken steps of its own to make it easier for users to find posts related to specific topics. These have included the introduction of embedded posts, trending topics and hashtags.

Justin Osofsky, Facebook’s vice president of media partnerships and global operations, wrote in a blog post that the acquisition will "meaningfully improve the ability for all of our partners to access and utilise the insights from Facebook’s tools and APIs." 

The blog post also hinted that the addition of SportStream's real time data tools could help Facebook compete more directly with Twitter. 

“We want to help people connect with their passion around sports, and the world more generally. If there is something interesting going on, people are talking about it on Facebook. From favorite television shows to breaking news, these conversations are happening on Facebook," said Osofsky. 

"SportStream's demonstrated track record of 'surfacing' interesting and engaging content, along with their deep understanding of our products, means that we will be able to build a better experience for the people who use Facebook, and for our partners who depend on us for real-time insights."  

Sporting events are among the most talked about subjects on Twitter and it's likely Facebook wants to be able to identify what users are talking about more accurately in order to better target advertising.

SportStream said: "Facebook sees the value in our technologies and team, and we're excited to be a part of their continued investment in their platform.

"With this next step for SportStream, we'll have greater resources to continue to do what we do best. We expect to make an impact on the more than one billion people who use Facebook as well as the many valued sports media businesses and professionals, teams, leagues and players that use Facebook to better connect with fans.”

In October, Facebook purchased mobile data compression start-up Onavo in a bid to make its service more cross-platform, especially for those using mobile devices. The deal was worth $120m.