Unless you have been marooned in a European airport by the Icelandic volcano you will have noticed that Facebook has thrown a rather large boulder into the Web pond, causing a mini Tsunami because of its implications for your privacy.
Like the bungled introduction of Google Buzz, Facebook’s new options will force you to opt out of the facilities, assuming rather naively that you want to join in the bunfight. So why the reference to evil in the headline? Well, if you chose to install like buttons you have three options – light, dark and evil. Tongue in cheek? This remains to be seen.
Some background; at the Facebook F8 conference recently Mark Zuckerberg revealed:”We are building a Web where the default is social.” How is Facebook doing this? Well, it has redesigned its Graph API for developers so that not only can they see the social connections between people, but they can also see and create the connections people have with their interests—things, places, brands, and other sites. Zuckerberg calls it the Open Graph (as opposed to the Social Graph). It is really an Interest Graph.
Techcrunch reports: “Facebook wants to developers to create subsets of the Open Graph around interests and things. Yelp might create one around restaurants, Pandora might create one around music, Netflix around movies. Add some “like” buttons and anytime someone likes a restaurant, song, or movie anywhere on the Web with a Facebook like button, that information will flow back into the Open Graph. So that Yelp will know what restaurants you and your friends have liked elsewhere and take that into consideration when giving you recommendations, or Pandora with music, and so on. (Yelp and Pandora are real examples, Netflix isn’t).
“Facebook is taking some of the information that pops up in people’s realtime streams and baking it into the Web. “The stream is ephemeral,” says Zuckerberg. “It is there for a few hours and then it mostly floats away. Services don’t understand the semantic connections between you and that restaurant.” But now Facebook can. Instead of the Web being defined only by hyperlinks (to the benefit of search engines like Google), Facebook wants it to be defined by social connections, likes and dislikes, interests that are coded and machine-readable. “Our goal is to use the open graph so people can have instantly social experiences wherever they go,” he says.
Zuckerberg also told the F8 faithful that Facebook was tearing up the policy that restricted keeping data for 24 hours. It has been reported that Facebook has around 500 million users so Zuckerberg’s team has a pretty substantial market impetus to drive these plans forward. I haven’t had time to look at the implications in great detail but I have been to my Facebook privacy to tighten up the options there until I understand the ramifications.
In the meantime I could be accused of total hypocrisy as the eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that I have placed a like button on each post. From a blogger’s point of view this could be an important marketing/publicity tool, so it will be interesting to see what happens.
What’s your take on this new move?