Glimpses of Carol Bartz legacy in Yahoo’s rollout of expanded Facebook integration

December 21, 2011

Yahoo is expanding its Facebook “frictionless sharing” capabilities, letting users of its entertainment websites automatically broadcast their reading habits across Facebook’s social network.

Yahoo websites including Yahoo Movies, Yahoo TV and omg! – Yahoo’s celebrity gossip site – will now offer the type of Facebook integration that Yahoo introduced for Yahoo News earlier this year.

If you opt-in and choose to use the social sharing feature, every time you read an article on one of those websites, the name of the article and a link is instantly beamed into the newsfeed of all your Facebook friends.

According to Yahoo, more than 12 million people have chosen to use the social sharing product since it became available for Yahoo News articles in September, and it has led to a 300 percent increase in visits to Yahoo News from Facebook users.

Yahoo is also extending social sharing to Yahoo News in several markets outside the U.S., bringing to 26 the total number of Yahoo sites that offer social sharing.

While there has been some criticism that Facebook’s frictionless sharing system – which is also used by wesbsites such as The Washington Post and music service Spotify among others – pushes the privacy envelope too far, Yahoo says users love it.

Of the 12 million users of Yahoo’s social sharing product, “very few” are choosing to remove it or to turn it off, said Yahoo VP of social and personalization Mike Kerns.

“I understand there’s been a lot of media noise around the concerns,” he said, “the users don’t seem to be very concerned about it.”

Kerns also cited the rapid rollout of the social sharing feature across so many Yahoo online properties as a benefit of all the work the company has done revamping its back-end Web publishing infrastructure – a key legacy of Carol Bartz, who was fired from the CEO job in September.

Yahoo detractors faulted Bartz for having little to show in terms of sexy new product launches or revenue growth during her nearly three-year stint at the helm. But Kerns said that all the less glamorous back-end work completed in recent years is now paying off.

“There’s no way we would have been able to have this deployed in 26 different markets within a matter of weeks,” he said of the social sharing product. “Without any question we would have been much slower.”

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