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Facebook’s Makeover Is A Little Bit Scary

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg summed up the social network’s big F8 announcement this way: “We’re adding verbs.”

What he didn’t say was: We’re subtracting privacy.

At last year’s F8, Facebook announced the “like” button. One year later the “like” button looks like the work of cave men. Starting today, Zuckerberg announced that you won’t be able to just “like” a song, artist, movie, news story, exercise or recipe. You’ll listen to a song, attend a concert, watch a movie, read a news article, run in Golden Gate Park and cook a recipe. Your entire life– and all your social interactions– will now be broadcast on Facebook. His words: “Your apps. Now with friends.”

To limit all this social app activity from terrorizing our newsfeeds, Zuckerberg announced two new additions to Facebook’s profile pages: Ticker and Timeline. Ticker is a separate “lightweight” newsfeed that looks, well, exactly like Twitter and displays what users are doing in realtime, on the upper right-hand corner of Facebook, so that their Farmville activity doesn’t have to irritatingly linger on our main news feed. Timeline will organize users’ profile pages chronologically by photos, events and apps. See Facebook’s Timeline visual below:


The problem is that the more activities users are able to share on Facebook, the less control they will seem to have over their own privacy. Timeline seems to outsource the control users once had over their profiles and newsfeeds to its virtual algorithm. Zuckerberg was quick to emphasize how “frictionless” this new experience will be: No more pesky prompts asking us if we’d like to broadcast every little social game, news story, or song on Facebook. Now all that activity will just automatically populate in Ticker. That, Zuckerberg says, will allow us to “connect to an order of magnitude more things than ever before.” But it also prompts that even more pesky, perennial question: How much of our lives are we really comfortable sharing on Facebook?

Facebook has been laying the ground work for this new open graph for over a year. As FORBES first reported, Facebook has been busy setting up integration partnerships with streaming music services Spotify, Mog, Rdio, Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio, Turntable.fm, Rhapsody, Mixcloud, TicketFly and others. Today, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek took the stage to announce that via its new integration with Facebook, “the world will light up with music.” Via these streaming music partnerships, users will now be able to see not only what their friends are listening to, but check out their playlists, see what concerts they’re going to, even in some cases, what seats they’ve purchased.

Likewise, Netflix CEO (and recent Facebook board member) Reed Hastings took the F8 stage today to announce Netflix’s new partnership with Facebook. Last spring, FORBES reported Facebook was working on integration partnerships with moviemakers Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. Soon, via these new partnerships with Netflix, Warner Bros., Hulu and others, users will now be able to watch movies and television shows with friends directly on Facebook’s platform.

Finally, three weeks ago, we learned venture capitalist and Facebook board member Jim Breyer had joined the board of News Corp. Today, Zuckerberg announced News Corp. has created a Facebook-only edition of The Daily. Yahoo! News, The Washington Post, The Economist, Telegraph, The Guardian, Gizmodo.com, Mashable.com, Le Monde and other news outlets were also invited to integrate with Facebook’s platform.

The ramifications for the digital content industry here are tremendous. In Zuckerberg’s words: “We are making it possible to build a new class of apps and rethink a number of industries at the same time.”

These coming changes are very cool but–given that Facebook and its partners are still motivated by their bottom line– they are also a little bit scary. It will be interesting to see how Facebook’s competitors and 750 million users react to the new open graph.

via Nicole Perlroth, Forbes


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