When social media takes over

According to GigaOM and the New York Times, at yesterday’s f8 conference, Facebook launched its plans to make the whole Web social. That’s right, folks, social media is taking over the world.

Part of this plan has already been made public and become fairly commonplace in the technology world. Facebook Connect, which allows you to log into various sites using your Facebook username and connects information back to your newsfeed, reached 100 million users in its first 15 months according to the Times.

It outlined three key components to making this new social expansion become reality:

  • “Social plugins” create “instant personalization” on participating partner sites. When you log onto a Web site, even for the first time, this widget lets you know what friends have visited that site and makes recommendations to you based on that information.
  • The “open graph protocol” brings the Facebook “like” button to the World Wide Web. Users can “like” pretty much anything, and that information will be stored to help personalize your Web experience. For instance, the article uses the example of IMDB, one of the partner sites: if you “like” a particular movie, that movie will go into your favorites on the site, and other people can view information about it by looking at what you have “liked.”
  • “Graph API” will create a sort of cyber-newsfeed, giving Web sites access to streaming updates whenever a user creates a connection or writes on a wall. Along with this, Facebook will be adopting the open authentication protocol, OAuth, according to the article.

GigaOM’s Liz Gannes recognizes that a major problem with this new system is that people are not used to this integration of information. “Users aren’t accustomed to instantly personal services, and we have no idea where that personal information is coming from,” she said in her article. She does mention that there is an option to opt-out of this information sharing, which for many privacy-concerned users could be a saving grace.

Naturally, there are privacy implications out the ears surrounding this kind of Internet-wide connection, but Gannes makes a very good point: Every major change created by Facebook has been vehemently protested by at least one side, only to eventually find its place in society. Sometimes that meant the nay-sayers subsided and allowed it to become the next great protocol; other times that meant said application fell into oblivion. Regardless, this is just the next big Facebook advancement, and a few month’s time will tell whether it will revolutionize Internet use as we know it, or if it will become yet another fleeting cyber-memory.

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