Facebook’s bid to socialise the web
Facebook has replaced its Facebook Connect platform with a new set of social plugins which will dramatically expand its presence across the web.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, introduced the new tools, which are part of the company’s Open Graph strategy at yesterday’s annual F8 developer conference in San Francisco.
The plugins are an attempt to extend Facebook’s influence and presence on the web, allowing its service to be more deeply embedded into third party websites.
The new service launched with 30 partners including several UK brands such as LoveFilm and Sky.
A Facebook user has to be logged into their account (on the third party’s website) in order to use the service.
Facebook users will then be able to click a ‘Like’ button on stories, photos, music or videos they want to share with friends, via the site.
There are also new pop-up windows which will show friends what each other has been reading or watching on the third party site. It is meant to be a frictionless way of sharing content back on Facebook.
The information that a user ‘Likes’ on a site like LoveFilm, will then be kept by Facebook and can then be released back to the third party’s website, for them to use and tailor a more personalised online experience for that individual and their friends.
Facebook estimates that it will serve one billion ‘Likes’ buttons by the end of its first day.
VentureBeat, a technology blog, said the most important upside of these new plug-ins is that they “will compel publishers across the web to organize their content for sharing and indexing by the social network.
These new features could essentially put the web at Facebook’s beck and call.
“The company released a Graph application programming interface that allows publishers to tag their content by type. For example, if a page is about a Restaurant or a band, a developer can label it so Facebook and other apps accessing the graph can easily call up a friend’s favourite bands or restaurants.”
Zuckerberg said the changes were intended to put Facebook’s users and their friends at the “centre of the web”.
Writing on the Facebook blog, he said: “We are making it so all websites can work together to build a more comprehensive map of connections and create better, more social experiences for everyone.
"We have redesigned the Facebook Platform to offer a simple set of tools that sites around the web can use to personalize experiences and build out the graph of connections people are making.
“This next version of Facebook Platform puts people at the centre of the web. It lets you shape your experiences online and make them more social. For example, if you like a band on Pandora, that information can become part of the graph so that later if you visit a concert site, the site can tell you when the band you like is coming to your area. The power of the open graph is that it helps to create a smarter, personalized web that gets better with every action taken.
“We think that the future of the web will be filled with personalized experiences.”
Bret Taylor, Facebook’s director of platform, said the new tools “makes it easy to make any page (on the internet) a Facebook page”.
The new strategy is being seen as a power play by the social network, which has over 400 million active users, to steal some ground back from Google and Twitter, its major rivals.
The new plug-ins represent a significant commercial opportunity as they can drive large amounts of traffic to the third party partner sites, and in turn boost their advertising revenues.
However, commercial terms between those partners and the social network are unknown and Zuckerberg said Facebook itself would not put adverts inside the new features.