Facebook’s Open Graph initiative could be a whopper

By April 26, 2010 3 Comments

As you might have seen Facebook last week announced their Open Graph initiative.  As a user I’m excited by the idea of getting effective crowd sourced recommendations and knowing which of my friends use a site and which other sites are popular with users of the I’m on will both provide interesting context.  From a privacy perspective I would take the trade off of sharing my personal data in return for the benefits above.

As a publisher, I’m marginally excited hopefully I will be able to install a Facebook widget which will:

  • make TheEquityKicker a better experience for site visitors
  • help me learn more about you all
  • help traffic growth by promoting sharing

From a publisher perspective the one additional thing I would like to see is a way to integrate comments on Facebook with the main comment stream.  I already suffer from a fragmentation problem as maybe 10% of the comments on my posts already happen on Facebook – and that percentage is likely to increase if this initiative is successful.

From a business perspective the rich database of preferences that Facebook will generate should offer powerful ad targeting possibilities, something I have been keen to see emerge for a while, and it will be interesting to see how well the targeted ads perform.  I’m also intrigued to see whether they will make their data available to third party publishers to target ads on their site – which has the potential to significantly increase publisher revenues and profitability.

It will also be interesting to see how this privacy experiment plays out.  As with Alex Iskold on ReadWriteWeb I suspect most people will happily take the ‘nice-service-in-return-for-personal-data’ trade off Facebook is offering.  If they do, and do so knowingly, we will finally have evidence that in practice users don’t value privacy highly and hopefully the privacy debate will move forward from the rut it has been stuck in for a while.

Finally, this move puts Facebook in an even stronger position in the web ecosystem. Borrowing again from the ReadWriteWeb analysis they have created a positive feedback loop between themselves and their users web activity which excludes their competitors and will become more powerful over time.  Google is so strong in part because it exploits a similar feedback loop when it improves search results by looks at which links we click on and how long we stay on the sites.