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F8: Facebook Is The Portal 2.0

Posted by: Catherine Holahan on July 23, 2008

When Facebook announced plans to make their social network portable, I envisioned some sort of toolbar sitting in the corner of my browser, alerting me to friend updates. The reality is much cooler.

At Facebook’s F8 conference on July 23, CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled tools enabling Web sites to integrate Facebook profiles and friend lists deeply with their properties. For example, blog company Six Apart built a feature allowing users to append their Facebook pictures to comments on its blogs. (For more coverage see my colleague Rob Hof’s live blog of the event here .)

The feature employs new privacy settings from Facebook that allow users to limit how their information is shared. So, users’ photos are only shared if they proactively agree to it. “We have paid a lot of attention to making sure that… people have a lot of control,” said Zuckerberg during his keynote at the San Francisco Design Center. “We learned from last time.

I can see how such tools would get me to use Facebook and their partner sites more. To use another example from F8, if I’m on Digg, I would be interested in seeing stories my Facebook friends commented on or submitted. Having such information would make me more likely to check out those stories on Digg, as well as check out Facebook’s news feed to see what stories my friends are reading on the social news site.

More importantly, I think that Facebook Connect—as Facebook has dubbed the new features—redefines what a portal is in this new open, portable Web. It’s not a homepage, or your mail client, or a site where you import bits of other sites. The new portal is the company that keeps the data that you use to better interact with sites throughout the Web.
It’s the site that’s always there because it’s a crucial part of every other site out there.

I can see how this would drive both adoption and additional revenue for Facebook. Sites, hoping to encourage audience members to stay longer and consume more content, would implement Facebook tools so that their users could see what friends were doing on the their site, communicate, and easily share content. Facebook would gain by becoming more ubiquitous across the Web, thereby encouraging more users to sign up in order to become part of the community on other sites they visit. It could also, potentially, work out integrating ads on the Facebook community tools it provides other sites. (Facebook would also gain access to more information about user habits and behaviors that it could use to target ads).

The existing portals better watch out.

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Reader Comments


July 24, 2008 02:29 AM

This guy is career plagiarizer. First he rips off the Harvard team that built the original soc-nets for college students and then he sues a soc-net in Germany because he can't penetrate those markets. What a weasel. Arsebook should be shut down.

Interesting comment thread on techcrunch on the arsebook vs studivz suit:

Brian Addison

July 24, 2008 02:31 AM

I find it amusing that no one has made the glaring contradiction within Facebook's supposed improvement on user 'control' being that while it supposedly increases privacy rights, it blatantly advertises to other 'friends' what news articles you have looked at. In the spawning age of information sharing, beware that visibility can certainly become a trap. Facebook is not decreasing the information it builds on YOU, it is gathering it and disseminating it. If you're prepared to be a human billboard, by all means...

sour grapes

July 24, 2008 12:01 PM

To Crapster and others:

Ok, he ripped off the Harvard team? How does that change anything? What matters is that facebook is the leading innovator in the evolving soc-net space. Privacy issues are another matter, everyone has growth pains. They'll overcome them, else the market will make sure they do.

Shutdown facebook? Get a life!


July 24, 2008 09:02 PM

The "new" facebook has clearly addressed the threats of "Friendfeed" and even "Twitter" in its redesign and is clearly focused on the micro-blog or life-cast which is where all the action currently resides online today!

It's certainly not hurting my app:

I like the changes both from a developer and user point of view, Facebookers are listening to the user and the technology and what it is saying!

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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