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On Facebook Opening Up

By - April 26, 2009

I nearly re-upped my subscription to the online version of the WSJ this evening, so as to read this piece: Facebook Opens Site To Developers Of Services.

But I found the text here – also on the WSJ site. Genie’s outta the bottle. From it:

The announcement, expected Monday, means developers can build services that access the photos, videos, notes and comments users upload to Facebook, with users’ permission. That’s a big change for the social-networking site, which has exercised tight control over the look and feel of its service and how developers can interact with it.

What I cannot figure out is whether this means Facebook is going to solve its linking problem. I’ve complained about it before, but the big issue with Facebook, to my mind, is that it does not play well with others when it comes to linking on the open web. In fact, it’s damn hard to even link *inside* Facebook, never mind sending links *from* other services (IE Twitter) into your Facebook status feed (you can’t).

If Facebook fixes this, it’s a game changer. If folks can create a useful service that acts and looks like Twitter, and works both inside and outside Facebook, and if these kinds of services can make money on their own terms (and not be subject to the whims of Facebook’s current TOS, which are terrifying), well, that’s a very big deal.

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5 thoughts on “On Facebook Opening Up

  1. Alex Iskold says:

    John,

    I totally agree. FB has been odd when it comes to linking, they like to keep it all in. Likely, they can open up and integrate fully into the open web.

    What I do not get though, is the Twitter envy. Yeah okay, Twitter traffic is growing. Yeah, okay Twitter is the hottest app now, and celebrities are on it, etc.

    But Facebook is huge and powerful and most importantly – different. It has nothing to do with the real time connections. It is about really connecting with friends. Twitter is not.

    Facebook is about pictures, videos, messages, walls, groups – all this stuff that made people use FB in the first place. Its not about the stream of news, thats what Twitter is.

    Why can’t Facebook just come to terms with what it is and be the best at that?

  2. Alex says:

    John,

    I totally agree. FB has been odd when it comes to linking, they like to keep it all in. Likely, they can open up and integrate fully into the open web.

    What I do not get though, is the Twitter envy. Yeah okay, Twitter traffic is growing. Yeah, okay Twitter is the hottest app now, and celebrities are on it, etc.

    But Facebook is huge and powerful and most importantly – different. It has nothing to do with the real time connections. It is about really connecting with friends. Twitter is not.

    Facebook is about pictures, videos, messages, walls, groups – all this stuff that made people use FB in the first place. Its not about the stream of news, thats what Twitter is.

    Why can’t Facebook just come to terms with what it is and be the best at that?

    Alex

  3. Michael Cohn says:

    Although it’s true that it’s not easy to link from one part of Facebook to another, it’s not uncommon for me to click on links that lead me to other sites. And if you use the ‘Share on Facebook’ Firefox tool, then you are providing an outside link and a well-formatted thumbnail to everyone who sees your feed.

    My point is that Facebook does play nice in terms of sending you to other sites. Not so much in terms of making it easy to link to them. Interesting how just a few years ago, large publishers were looking for ways to *prevent* “deep linking” to their content.

  4. Steven Robertson says:

    “What I cannot figure out is whether this means Facebook is going to solve its linking problem.”

    Seems like it is, at least in the outbound direction. A link in a friend’s status, which was autoset by the Twitter app, took me directly to another website without an intermediate ‘You are about to leave Facebook’ page. It also seems to work from my own status.

    Facebook’s linking problem made using the service cumbersome and irritating. I’m happy to see them play with the rest of the web as equals.

  5. anonymous says:

    John,
    you do not need WSJ subscription to be able to read their online articles. Just search them on google news,and click them from google. You could read the facebook article from the following search for free.

    http://news.google.com/news?um=1&ned=us&hl=en&q=Facebook+Opens+Site+To+Developers+Of+Services+site%3Awsj.com

    could somebody please write a firefox extension to do this process automatically. That will save $100 for John and others.