In the just concluded Facebook F8 conference, Facebook has announced to the world the next chapter in Facebook’s history: putting facebook’s social graph at the center of the internet. To the ordinary user, these new features that facebook announced, advertised as a “new way to personalize your online experience” may seem like simple features, but to those familiar with issues involved, this is the company’s first steps in becoming a very important pillar of the online experience. Before we dwell on the implications, let’s do a rundown of the these features.
Like for the whole internet
Facebook is re-focusing its publisher and developer relationships. Instead of Facebook Connect which doesn’t translate well to most users of Facebook, they’re implementing a well-know feature of facebook – a “like” feature for the whole internet. Partner publishers and websites can put “like” or “recommend” links to their contents, and this is connected directly to the Facebook users’ stream. Liked articles may appear in users’ stream. This will put an enormous data on facebook’s hands about the relevance of outside pages to the users.
This is the more controversial feature that Facebook announced. What it provides is that when a Facebook user visits partner sites, the site can automatically personalize the experience for the user by looking at the publicly-available information that a user has on his account. This automatic sharing of personal information that you put on facebook to its partner sites can be prone to abuse.
Facebook is playing a delicate game of balance between the privacy of its users and its potential to become a central player in the internet.