Facebook wants users to share it all
Now Facebook is pushing its 800 million users to share far more about themselves than ever before by making these acts of show and tell automatic.
The plan: When users sign up for one of these new social apps –- say Spotify or Hulu –- they will be asked to give permission to update their friends in real time every time they listen to Kanye West or watch the latest episode of "Breaking Bad." That way their friends can click on that same song or TV show and alert their friends and so on and so on.
While onstage Thursday at the company's annual developers conference in San Francisco, Zuckerberg underscored how much better he thinks the Facebook experience will be for everyone when users stop getting those pesky pop-up boxes to give consent for these updates and just share everything by default.
That already has some users complaining of too much information. (Slate's Farhad Manjoo also makes a compelling argument for people not sharing absolutely everything, not because of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad privacy concerns but because he thinks it will amount to people sharing a whole lot of drivel).
Even though Facebook says users will have the ability to set privacy controls when they sign up for these social apps, the company could face another privacy backlash from people worried that they are baring far too much on Facebook.
But that's really the point. Zuckerberg spoke again and again Thursday about "the open graph," which is basically all the connections people have to each other and –- increasingly -- to everything: the books and articles they read, the music they listen to and the movies and shows they watch.
As Altimeter Group analyst Brian Solis put it succinctly: As Facebook moves beyond the verb "like" to "read," "listen," "watch," it will not only own those verbs, it will own the actions themselves.
Every time I "run" through Golden Gate Park or "cook" rainbow chard, I will automatically share those acts with all of my Facebook friends. If Facebook has its way, I will not do much of anything anymore without telling my friends (and marketers) all about it.
Zuckerberg calls it "frictionless sharing." But analysts say Facebook seems to be removing as much "friction" for Facebook as it does for Facebook's users.
The more Facebook knows and understands about people's lives -- their relationships, their interests, their whereabouts –- the better it can profit from that information by targeting advertising to eager marketers, just the kind of turboboost it needs with its highly anticipated initial public offering coming next year.
For the cynical, the latest features that Facebook rolled out on Thursday are just another big step in the company's unstoppable march toward World Wide Web domination (or the creation of a parallel Internet).
What do you think about sharing on Facebook? Let us know in the comments.
-- Jessica Guynn
Photo: Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg at the company's F8 developers conference in San Francisco. Credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg