A couple days ago, Facebook announced some major changes in its platform that will make the entire web more social:
"We're building toward a web where the default is social. Every application and product will be redesigned from the ground up to use a person's real identity and friends. Facebook calls this new social paradigm the "Open Graph," and Zuckerberg called the shift "the most transformative thing we've ever done for the web."
The one that caught immediate attention was the switch from calling "fans" to "like" and addition of the "like" button all around the web. Pete Cashmore, in an article on CNN, explains that this lays the ground work for social search.
A "Like" button that's set to appear all around the web. Click the button, and the Web page is shared with your friends. What's more, every "Like" you submit ensures Facebook (and its partner sites) can deliver a more personalized experience to you.
Robert Scoble offers detailed meta analysis of the implications from a technical, marketing, and individual user perspective. I haven't fully digested what everything means and I think we're going to see it evolve.
Implications for Web PresenceOne point he made is perhaps relevant to nonprofits who have set up public Facebook Fan pages - it provides a way to turn their web sites into a Facebook Fan Page. Scoble explains.
It lets Facebook minimize the need for a “public” fan page, like mine. Inside Facebook explains more in detail why this is true. Mostly because they’ll spit all those bits over onto my blog, if I add the code to my blog (which I’m pretty sure I will).
Scoble predicts that we’re going to become addicted to Facebook’s new features. He goes onto say that website that doesn’t have Facebook “likes” on it will seem weird sooner than we think.
Scoble also describes the Facebook Social Graph and how much simpler and powerful it is so that developers can build Apps. The API will allow you "like" something on a web site and all of your friends will get updates to that effect. For example, if the Humane Society had an action alert on its site and added the code for the "like" button and I liked it, all my friends would get updates to that effect. And I would also be able to see if any of my friends looked at other areas of the Humane Society site. This, of course, may not be such a bad thing?
I'm not sure whether or not this is related, but Joe Solomon points out that the Facebook Events page no longer has the ability to message out to people who responded. He's not happy about that but I wonder how these changes on Facebook will impact the way nonprofits interact with their stakeholders.
Scoble talked about privacy and public trust issue and how Facebook has the potential to become a utility.
I told Zuckerberg that he now has the modern-day railroad in his grasp and challenged him to both win our trust and not abuse the major power he’s going to aggregate. So far I’m hearing all the right things from him and the employees around him. They know that this is a major, ambitious, move and they are going to move carefully and deliberately from here. They better or else we’ll see regulators move into control this business like we’ve never seen in our industry. One CEO, who asked not to be named, told me in the hallways today that Facebook is now a utility that the industry is going to rely on and he noted that utilities usually are heavily regulated to make sure that they don’t abuse the power they have over people and businesses.
There are some user personal privacy issues and PC Mag has a good analysis here. According to the article, in the past, you were asked if wanted to share your personal information with each app that wanted to access your profile. This has now changed. Make something "public" in your privacy settings and it won't just appear on Facebook, but throughout the Facebook ecosystem.
Ironically, through one of my friends, Howard Greenstein, I discovered that there had been an addition to the privacy settings, "Instant Personalization." It shares data with non-Facebook sites and it was automatically set to "Allow." I decided to switch it off by unchecking it because I wanted to understand the trade off between the value of personalization and personal privacy. You can also control what your friends can share about you on other sites as well.
Facebook's Graph API makes it possible to pull all sorts of
personal data directly into third party sites. If you want to know what
you are sharing, http://graph.facebook.com/scobleizer and add your name instead of Scoble's name. I was surprised to see the personal data that Scoble was sharing, including birth date and home address. But he's opted into that. I decided to my mine much less revealing. http://graph.facebook.com/beth.kanter I see this as being a problem for those who aren't aware of the privacy changes, those who aren't careful about what they share in the
first place. I've decided to be cautious until I fully understand what the implications are. And a lot of my colleagues have expressed similar opinions. Nicole Lazzaro shared some of her thoughts:
Facebook's Graph API makes it possible to pull all sorts of personal data directly into third party sites. If you want to know what you are sharing, http://graph.facebook.com/scobleizer and add your name instead of Scoble's name. I was surprised to see the personal data that Scoble was sharing, including birth date and home address. But he's opted into that. I decided to my mine much less revealing. http://graph.facebook.com/beth.kanter
I see this as being a problem for those who aren't aware of the privacy changes, those who aren't careful about what they share in the first place. I've decided to be cautious until I fully understand what the implications are. And a lot of my colleagues have expressed similar opinions.
Nicole Lazzaro shared some of her thoughts:
At the heart of the matter, it's only scary if the data means something or sharing it causes harm. In the way that Facebook devalued the term "Friend" and are about to do the same with "Like" these privacy clauses will make common knowledge things like birth dates and who my friends are.Have you changed your privacy settings or are you wide open? Why? It's all personal preference, but you should make an informed choice.
I wonder what new information will we horde about ourselves to keep private to fill in this place? Or will privacy become an outdated concept, because keeping information private does more harm than good.
It's very hard to know what the new norms will be. But it used to be VERY scary to write down a thought, put one's photo and real name next to it and hit "send" for the whole wide web to see. Maybe privacy will not be important in the future. Still is scary to me today! :)