Facebook has announced that it is giving people a chance to tell their friends even more about what they like. With the introduction of a “Like” button that will appear on partner sites, Facebook users can easily share content that they find “valuable” with their Facebook friends. So we are now left to wonder if the new feature for Facebook will be a winner or like, a loser.
The Wall Street Journal reports from the f8 Facebook developer conference
A centerpiece of the changes involves a simple button, offered to other Web sites, that says “Like.” For free, other Web sites can install a Facebook “Like” button that users can click on to signal their interest in a piece of content, such as a band or an article. The user’s approval then shows up on his or her Facebook page, with a link back to the site.
The idea is that other Web sites will drive traffic back to Facebook.com, and in turn receive traffic from Facebook. Other sites can also offer personalized modules, telling individual users what their Facebook friends have done on the site, such as review a restaurant.
The new “Like” buttons transmit data about user activity back to Facebook. If they like a band, for example, a link to the band could appear in their interests. Since advertisers can already target ads to users’ interests, the new buttons could give advertisers more data to target ads to, but Facebook said it isn’t currently launching any new ad-targeting products in conjunction with the service.
While the button itself is a big deal it will also be a big deal how Facebook and its partners address any privacy concerns. There are three instant personalization partners Docs, Yelp and Pandora. According to the Help Center these sites are required to show a Facebook box at the top of their site so you can get out of the instant part of personalization. I tried it on all three and the box did not appear on Pandora.
Here’s Facebook’s version of notification of the new service to its users.
From the leaders of Facebook comes this take on the privacy issues.
In a news conference after his keynote address, Mr. Zuckerberg and other executives stressed that the new services would not loosen its privacy policies. They said that Facebook won’t share any individual user data with Web sites that implement the “Like” button, but may share aggregate data like how many people “Liked” an item. Whether Facebook would share that data with a user’s Facebook friends would depend on the user’s privacy settings.
As with anything related to Facebook and privacy it will take a little while for people to look for the “likeholes” (that’s a Like button privacy loophole). Considering Facebook’s privacy track record you have to go in expecting that they will try to get over on their users regarding privacy concerns that could block revenue opportunities and backpedal if they need to. Maybe I’m wrong but if history is any indicator I’d be, like, surprised if there weren’t some privacy concerns raised.
So do you like the idea?