Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Facebook aims to spread across the Internet

An article by The New York Times reports on plans by Facebook to extend its reach across the Internet by allowing users to access other services with their Facebook login. Now described as the world's largest social network, Facebook has launched 'Connect' which gives users the chance to login to other websites and to see their friends’ activities on those sites. The new Connect service also gives members the opportunity to broadcast their actions on those sites to their friends who use Facebook.

Coverage on these additional sites remains limited at the moment and are mostly US-focused websites, but the intention is that major Internet properties will begin to share at least some of their usage data so that users don't need to enter the same identifying information again and again on different sites. Such programmes will help the emergence of a new “social web”, where interaction and 'chatter' amongst friends will infiltrate those sites that have been entirely 'unsociable' to date. It can therefore also be used as a way for recommendations to drive user traffic and activity across the Web in a more seamless fashion.

These moves raise the sensitive issue of privacy again with these services and how the data might be used by Facebook and the other partner sites to 'monetise' the traffic and behavioural data being captured. This remains new territory for the web whee boundaries are being tested and where Facebook has previously fallen foul of the privacy lobby with its 'Beacon' advertising network which was dropped in the face of criticism last year.

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