All posts tagged ‘facebook’

File Under: Events, Social, Web Standards

Up Next For Facebook: Expect More Open Interactions

Facebook F8

Facebook essentially copies a bunch of services that are already available on the open internet — chat, e-mail, media sharing, profiles — for its 400 million active users. But it also provides tools to help those users interact with each other while they’re outside Facebook’s walls, and there are signs the company is ready to make those tools more open and more easily integrated into other websites and applications.

The social network has already seen great success with Facebook Connect, its authentication system other websites can use to let their visitors log in using their Facebook username and password, then leave comments or share items with their Facebook friends with a single click. They can also hop around between websites and apps without creating a new account at each stop.

Facebook Connect has certainly fueled the explosive growth of social interaction across hardware and software platforms, as it helps Facebook friends notify each other of their activities on other social websites, the movies they’re renting, or the high score they just got on their favorite iPhone game.

Facebook Connect was first announced in 2008 at F8, Facebook’s developer conference. The next F8 is taking place Wednesday in San Francisco, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is expected to announce the next phase of his company’s plans to further extend its sharing platform during his keynote address.

The Facebook Connect system isn’t entirely open — a key reason for its existence is to feed social sharing traffic back into Facebook. But it has much in common with other emerging open standards like OpenID and OAuth. Most social websites use a mix of both Facebook and non-Facebook options to handle user authentication, and Facebook Connect is not fully interoperable with competing technologies.

But several recent events point to Facebook making its own platform work better with open technologies. Last year, the company joined the OpenID Foundation and it began partially supporting the technology by allowing users to log in to Facebook using OpenID credentials. Also last year, the company hired David Recordon, one of the key architects of OpenID and OAuth, and purchased FriendFeed, a website that aggregates people’s social activities. Soon after acquiring FriendFeed, Facebook released its Tornado sharing framework under an open-source license.

Facebook wouldn’t comment on any upcoming announcements when contacted for this story. However, outside developers remain hopeful that the company will continue to grow its sharing platform by making it work in tandem with other open technologies already in place.

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File Under: Location, Social

Facebook Finds its Place in the Location-Sharing Landscape

Photo by Mr Ush via Flickr/CCThe biggest social network on the web — that’s Facebook, by the way — is getting ready to unveil a location sharing service of its own, according to a report Tuesday.

Citing unnamed sources, The New York Times’ Bits blog says there will be two components, “a service offered directly by Facebook that will allow users to share their location information with friends,” and a set of APIs other location-sharing services can employ to allow Facebookers to update their location info using outside services.

NYT‘s Nick Bilton says Facebook will shed light on the new service at the company’s upcoming f8 developer conference in April.

Facebook has certainly taken its sweet time getting in on the location-sharing game — services like Foursquare, Gowalla, Google Latitude and Yahoo Fire Eagle have been blowing up over the last year. But the whole idea of “check-ins” raise new privacy concerns for many social network users. Some view it as over-sharing, others have concerns about invasion of privacy or cyberstalking — which is why all of the most popular location-sharing apps have extensive privacy controls built in to their opt-in services.

Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Google is experimenting with rolling location-based features into Buzz activity streams, and that the company is even working on a new location-based ad format.

Photo: Mr Ush/Flickr/CC

File Under: Social

New Facebook Features Show It’s Still Finding Its Real-Time Legs

Facebook has made two major changes to the way it displays real-time data about user activity on its platform — one for publishers to help track the spread viral content, and one change that affects how people see updates from their friends.

The site has enhanced its Share feature — the tiny “Share this on Facebook” widgets seen at the bottom of blog posts, videos and photos — to include live stats tracking. Starting Monday, publishers can see a live count of how many times a particular post or piece of media has been shared on Facebook.

The new live stats counter for Facebook Share closely mimics Tweetmeme‘s popular “Retweet” badges, or the live widgets that show the number of Diggs or up-votes on Reddit a piece of content has accumulated.

Facebook Share is getting some analytics tools, too. In addition to learning how many times Facebook users have shared a post, publishers can also see whenever somebody “likes” the shared post, leaves a comment, or clicks back to the original site from within Facebook.

It’s not the only tweak to Facebook’s real-time data flow the company has made to its site within the last few days.

On Friday, the Facebook home page for logged-in users was redesigned to show a filtered stream of updates. Rather than just showing a stream of every status update, every post and every “like” from within their network, Facebook users can now choose between a streamlined, filtered view and a raw, unfiltered view.

This change basically incorporates the old “Highlights” feed — the most important posts from your friends — into the main News Feed. The result is a stream of the most interesting or important stuff that’s been posted within the past couple of days.

click for largerThe new filtered News Feed is now the default. The more times a post is commented on or liked, the more “popular” it becomes. An algorithm determines what goes into the feed and what stays hidden. The old “Highlights” box is being removed, as it’s now redundant.

The Live Feed, which can be accessed by clicking on the new “Live Feed” tab at the top of the home page, gives a more immediate, Twitter-like stream. It displays all of the recent activity, posts and updates from you and your friends, regardless of popularity.

The odd thing here is that one of these changes brings Facebook up to speed with its competitors in the real-time content sharing game, while the other change sets it back.

Publishers want to know how their content is doing out in the wild, so the new Share tools make sense.

But in altering the News Feed in the way it has, Facebook actually becomes less of a real-time news source for its users. By adding popularity filters, important stuff might not bubble up into your News Feed for hours or days. I just looked at my News Feed, and the newest item is four hours old. If I really want to know what my friends are doing, reading, liking and talking about right now, I have to switch over to the Live Feed. Luckily, this is as easy as one mouse click.

But what does this say about the proliferation of real-time data streams on the web? Publishers always want better real-time data, but do users? Are regular people by and large tired of the massive firehose of updates their favorite sites now all offer? Is it all becoming just too much?

If so, Facebook made the right move with the News Feed changes. If not, hey, there’s always the Live Feed option one click away. Or there’s Twitter. And if you want a real-time stream you can filter even more minutely, you can turn to FriendFeed or Cliqset or Plaxo Pulse.

If the changes to Facebook’s stream bothers you — and judging from the comments of my own Facebook friends, the changes aren’t being seen as that friendly — they are easy to alter. Facebook Insider has an excellent post showing how to change your feed settings. Additional tips are in the comments.

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File Under: Social, Web Services

Bing Is in Your Facebook, Indexing Your Status

Facebook’s Twitter envy is showing again; the site recently announced a deal with Microsoft that will see public Facebook statuses indexed by a search engine for the first time. Although users sticking with Facebook’s default privacy settings won’t be affected, the move clearly shows Facebook moving beyond its closed, walled-garden beginnings.

Twitter’s success has clearly shaped several of Facebook’s recent changes, including the move to real-time updates and the acquisition of FriendFeed, but this latest development — turning over Facebook’s walled data to a search engine — goes well beyond earlier moves.

Part of Facebook’s appeal for many is precisely its walled-garden aspect. Sharing information on Facebook is a much more private, limited experience than with public services like Twitter, where anyone, friend or otherwise can see what you post. But Facebook’s new deal with Bing, which comes close on the heals of Bing’s similar indexing plan for Twitter, will change that.

If the idea of your status messages finding their way into search engine indexes fills you with horror, there’s no need for alarm, only Facebook profiles set to “everyone” will be indexed. Since changing your privacy settings to “everyone” requires a trip to Settings -> Privacy Settings -> Profile, presumably only those that truly want their profiles public will be affected.

Facebook’s own terms of service also prevent outside applications from caching any user data, which means Bing’s indexing will likely be very ephemeral — don’t expect deep time-based searches or cached pages.

So if most users stick with the default privacy settings and Bing can’t cache the results, who does benefit from the new deal?

Earlier this year, Facebook announced “fan pages” for products and brands that wanted a presence on the site, but for whom a traditional account would not have worked. It’s precisely this segment of Facebook’s population that will likely be most excited about the new Bing search deal. Brands and celebrity users already heavily invested in a Facebook presence will see that presence now available to the world at large thanks to Bing’s indexing plan.

At the moment the Facebook integration is just an announcement, but if the end result is anything like the Twitter integration in Bing (which is already live), expect the focus to be on links and whatever the buzzwords of the moment happen to be.

How much value Facebook’s status updates will add to Bing’s search results remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure, Bing finally has some data Google doesn’t. Unlike Wednesday’s Bing/Twitter deal, which was quickly mirrored by a similar announcement from Google, thus far, Facebook and Google have shown each other no love.

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File Under: Software & Tools

Where is the OpenSocial Revolution?

OpenSocialYahoo points out that OpenSocial is a year old. The collection of APIs is a write-once approach to bringing the Facebook platform to any social website. Developers have not clamoured to develop OpenSocial apps. What’s the deal?

While Google was the instigator of OpenSocial, it found many supporters in fellow Facebook competitors: MySpace, Orkut, Friendster, Hi5, and more.

According to OpenSocial’s site, there are many who have rolled out developer implementations. Still, real life examples a year later seem to be minimal, especially in comparison to the land grab that came with Facebook’s platform launch.

There are a few examples trickling out. LinkedIn announced its platform, but is not making it open to all. Yahoo itself released its “open strategy” platform recently, which contains a piece for OpenSocial.

The revolution, it appears, is slow-moving. In the long term, I think open wins. But for now, it’s hard to beat the momentum and focus of Facebook.

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