MediaFile

Facebook’s new class of apps expand the social vocabulary

Time was when “liking” something on Facebook was the standard way to recommend something on the social network.

Now Facebook users will have a whole new vocabulary at their disposal so they can tell friends they “want” tickets to an upcoming rock concert, they are “cooking”  a certain dish or that they “ran” five miles in the park after work.

On Wednesday evening, Facebook announced the availability of more than 60 third-party appsthat can be integrated directly into Facebook, including apps from Ticketmaster, Airbnb, Foodspotting and Pinterest. Facebook also said that any software developer can now create their own such specialized apps for Facebook integration and submit the app to Facebook for approval.

Once you begin using one of these apps, your interactions within the app – say clicking on a dish you see in Foodspotting to note that you have “tried” it – are broadcast to the Facebook “ticker” for all your friends to see.  The apps are also integrated into each user’s Timeline – the revamped version of a user’s personal profile page that Facebook has been gradually rolling out to its more than 800 million users.  Now when you visit a friend’s Timeline, for instance, you might see a special section showcasing the top movies they’ve indicated that they want to see on the Rotten Tomatoes app, or the latest hotel reviews they’ve written with the TripAdvisor app.

The new apps are part of the so-called open graph feature that Facebook rolled out at its developer conference in September. The initial open graph rollout focused on integrating media apps from partners such as Spotify and Yahoo into Facebook, allowing users to notify friends of the music they were listening to, the news articles they were reading and the videos they were watching.

Facebook is starting to lose its touch

By Kevin Kelleher
The opinions expressed are his own.

Facebook is steamrolling forward. It now boasts 800 million active users. The company is reportedly preparting for an initial public offering. It’s laying plans to sell a Facebook phone, strengthening its presence on the mobile web. But Facebook’s plans may be hampered by a new backlash against the company’s efforts to get its users to share more of their lives online.

In September, Facebook announced at its annual f8 developers conference that it was upgrading its Open Graph technology. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced Open Graph in 2010 to let web sites and apps share information about users with Facebook. The revamped Open Graph takes sharing to a new level, allowing apps that automatically share what articles users are reading or what music they’re listening to.

Zuckerberg said the new feature would allow “frictionless experiences” and “real-time serendipity.” At the time, only a few observers found them to be scary. “They are seeking out information to report about you,” wrote developer and blogger Dave Winer. But suddenly, a critical mass of critics are speaking up about the changes, how they affect users and publishers alike.