Microsoft and Facebook have both announced initiatives in response to pressure from Twitter to provide real-time updates online.
Twitter is largely responsible for creating a premium on immediacy of data, said Microsoft's Sean Suchter on the firm's Bing search engine blog.
Bing is the first search engine to index Twitter to include new user messages or Tweets in search results less than a minute after they are posted.
Initially, only a small set of "prolific and prominent" users of Twitter will be included, based on their follower count and volume of Tweets, said Suchter.
Bing search results for any Twitter users on Microsoft's list, such as US columnist Kara Swisher, will include that person's latest tweets.
Facebook's real-time initiative takes the form of a new set of privacy controls that will allow users to control access on a per-post basis.
At one extreme, users can limit access to friends and family, but at the other, posts can be made public by using the "everyone" setting.
It is this new functionality that will give Facebook the same immediacy as Twitter for the first time.
"We're confident that greater control will lead to richer and more useful sharing through Facebook," said Chris Kelly, Facebook's chief privacy officer in a blog post.
This week, Facebook began a campaign to migrate its 225m users to the new privacy settings by offering a "transition tool" to a test group of users.
"After the testing and feedback phase is complete, we expect to offer final versions of the tool and the new settings to everyone on Facebook," said Kelly.