So what is changing at Facebook?

Posted by Minnaar Pieters 23 Apr 2010
The “F8″ conference is an annual conference where Facebook announces platform changes to their product, but its mostly aimed at developers. In the last year Twitter has started to become an ever greater concern for the folks at Facebook, and with good reason. While twitter does not replace the strictly “we are friends” model of Facebook, it does provide users (and content aggregators) with access to an incredible amount of real time information. This information is so valuable that search engines would pay top dollar for the right to publish on the minute updates from twitter as results.

So how will Facebook combat this? – through a more connected, open platform. First off, they are killing Facebook connect. Facebook connect is that irritating little confirmations you have to go through everytime another web app wants to communicate with Facebook. Instead, Facebook is implementing “Open Graph” which looks remarkably similiar when described, but uses a single sign on process which will integrate more tightly into third party apps. For example, saying you “like” a certain song in Pandora (a music streaming service on the web and on your phone) will automatically add that song to your favourite music section in yout profile. Of course, not everyone can go and make these alterations to your profile, so Facebook has elected about 30 partners with which they will work at first. Big news is that Microsoft will offer Office 2010 editable documents in Facebook. So we guess that Microsoft purchase of a portion of Facebook is giving them a few advatantages… Lets see how they will implement this.

As Kerry-Anne mentioned, Facebook will also be making available the “like” button to any third party user, and its as simple as a few lines of HTML code. This will work similiar to the “Digg This” or “tweet this” buttons we see on sites these days. This is perhaps the best way in which Facebook will try to defend themselves against Twitter’s information rich features.

Perhaps more interesting is that Facebook will start using its own official currency called Facebook Credits, which can be used in all Facebook related sites. If you are a Farmville addict, expect that you will be pestered with offers to buy upgrades soon enough, in the Facebook Credits currency. Now if they can only make an offer so that I cannot get any mention of Farmville, anywhere, ever. Now that is a upgrade I will get.
Facebook is also releasing a “social bar” which is a floating bar that can be integrated into any site – lets say on the bottom of the screen. This bar can then be used as a way to build a community around your site, and naturally, spread its news quickly to your friends on Facebook.

Dissappointingly, Facebook did not mention anything regarding location based services (you can call it “LBS” if you want to be trendy). This is one area where services like Loopt, Twitter and Foursquare still have an advantage. Mark Zuckerberg did however confirm that it is being worked on… So in future you should become more careful of who you friend on Facebook…
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I am a R&D Analyst in Stellenbosch South Africa who has a immense passion for all things tech related. I embrace technology, open source and web standards, and I participate and contribute to the social web.