Facebook’s ‘Like’ and ‘Open Graph’ – a digest of the indigestable

The social world is still blinking anxiously as it attempts to digest
the full import of Facebook‘s
recent announcements at F8 (the annual, erm, FaceFest, during which
the ‘Book traditionally tells mortals what to expect during the coming
year.)

What it all boils down to is
this: Facebook, within an unspecified period of time, will be
transitioning from being an element
of the web – albeit one with a fair amount of heft and a considerable
social girth – to actually, like, being
the web.

I know. There is so very much
to think about there that we thought the subject deserved a blog post
of its own – so here is our very best (slightly sideways) take on the
situation:

To bring you rapidly up to speed: Facebook’s Big Plan is to junk Connect
and to make it waa-aay easier,
through what they’re calling their Open
Graph
, for us to access ‘the Book from wherever
we are
on the Net.

Jeremiah Owyang, predictably, is the go-to
chap
for detail, but the bottom line is this: social connections
were always going to be as important as hyperlinks have been in the past
– but The
Future
– as seen by Facebook – involves every site on the web
feeding back and forth to – yup – Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg says
they’re “building a web where the
default is social
“, and that “the Web is going to get a whole lot
better
.”

Hmm. Various credible
voices
point out that this might have some implications for –
damn, what’s that thing called? Yes! Privacy. Just how much
information are we going to be giving out to third
parties
as the
price of being involved
in this Future they’re talking about ?

And if this future does make
Facebook the default web – well, that’s rather a lot of power
concentrated in one company, no? It’s not beyond the capacity of a
slightly-paranoid imagination to conceive that, if the ‘Book were to
take a dislike to you – p’raps you’d been rather critical of their
privacy policy, say, or a bit snooty about one of their associates – you
might find yourself pushed off the edge of the world’s default
communication platform. Might be a bit of a disaster for you and your
business, no? Robert Scoble
expands on this scenario, and notes that if Facebook’s plans come to
fruition, they will effectively become a utility – and an entirely
unregulated one at that.

Pete Cashmore’s latest blog
post is titled ‘Nobody
Can Stop Facebook Because Nobody Understands Facebook
‘. And Maddie
Grant counsels, “we need to be paying attention before we wake up one
day to find ourselves deep in the Matrix, hooked up to tubes with the
machine world sucking
out our brains
.”

And if that doesn’t plump up your paranoia nicely, consider this
odd factlet
: Facebook’s new ‘like’ button was discovered last week
to come in three colour-schemes – light, dark, and… evil. Yes ‘evil’,
as in mwa-ha-ha. As in, ‘evil plan to take over the web’. Even more
mysteriously, no sooner had TechCrunch noted the fact than pouf! the
‘evil’ option was gone.

Things have taken a rather Strangelove turn, haven’t they?

 

This post, by our research consultant Kate Williams, first appeared
on our eModeration Blog on 27/04/10