Talking tech since 2003

Just last night, I wrote about Facebook’s changing of terminology (changing “becoming a fan” to “liking”), and their implementation of community pages to tie in with the user information within profiles.  Today, it seems that Facebook has taken the linking process a bit further, revamping their “Facebook Connect” service which allows websites to use Facebook as an authentication and profile method.

According the the tour of the revamped feature, it will make the “like” feature created yesterday, much more universal and usable on sites outside of Facebook.  Also, Facebook states that the new “Connect” feature will allow users to keep themselves updated with their friends activities whilst browsing the given website.  This functionality reminds me a lot of the Digg toolbar, which allows users to share stories and sites via Digg and view and submit comments.  Additionally, Facebook’s new feature reminds me a lot of the Meebo bar which allows users to share websites with their friends right from the page itself.

Facebook users will notice this new feature when browsing partnered websites, which at this point include Micrsoft’s Docs.com, Pandora Radio, and the review site Yelp.com.  When visiting one of these partnered sites, a user will be presented with a blue toolbar at the top of the page that will alert the user that their experience is being personalized with the help of Facebook connectivity.  Additionally, clicking on the “Friends’ Activity” button will show the user all of their friend’s shared activities within the given website.

Of course, as with any new “universal” web feature, the aspect of user privacy is one of the first things to come into mind.  Using this new feature, Facebook surely has and is likely using the ability to track users’ activities on partnered websites.  However, seeing as how many Facebook users are willing to share great amounts of information with the site to begin with, I do not see this to be very unreasonable at all.  This is especially seeing as how users are given the option to opt-out of the new feature.  As of right now, I personally do not see myself opting-out of this new feature.  In fact, I can see myself using this feature a lot, and can easily see it making me more active on participating third-party sites, most notably Yelp.

Most importantly, today’s development shows a trend with Facebook’s recent developments; they are trying to make their user experience much more universal.  Yesterday, they implemented the ability to link profile interests to existing fan pages (now known as community pages).  Today, Facebook has made a major revision to a feature which allows users to become more universally tied into Facebook outside of the site itself.  This ultimately raises the question; what will Facebook do tomorrow?

Do you think that Facebook is taking it too far by implementing it’s services on other sites?  Do you think that it’s a privacy risk?  Will you use the new feature?  Let us know in the comments.


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