NEWS ANALYSIS: At its F8 developers' conference April 21, Facebook is expected to unveil a "Like" button publishers can embed on their Websites to let users share content with their Facebook friends. Facebook's effort is being preempted by a group of companies intent on not letting Facebook infuse the Web with its members-only approach to the social graph. Meebo April 19 launched XAuth, a platform for automating the way users share content on social networks, with partners Google, MySpace, Microsoft, Yahoo and others.
Facebook, which popularized the notion of shared
content for its social network, is expected to unveil a "Like" button
publishers can embed on their Websites to let users share content with their
The New York Times reported
Facebook at its F8 developer's conference April 21 will introduce a
Like button that will allow the company to keep tabs on what a user
linked to. Users can click the button to
share favorite Websites, which will give Facebook more info on what
Facebook will share that data with Web publishers, which
will put in front of visitors links, photos and other content that their
friends like from Facebook. If that sounds confusing, think of this Like button as one big
recommendation engine for the Web.
Facebook fuels the Like button with its social graph on the
back end; Website publishers are the vehicles
to promote sharing for Facebook's glut of 400 million-plus users.
This effort, which follows up the Facebook Connect
service to let users connect to third-party Websites with their Facebook user
names and passwords, is a play to help Facebook extend its tendrils as the
premier social connective tissue for the Web.
One imagines social advertising
will play a major role here, but we must wait until F8 Wednesday to learn whether
this is so and how Facebook envisions it will work.
Facebook's effort is being preempted by a group of
companies intent on not letting Facebook infuse the Web with its members-only
approach to the social graph. Meebo April 19 launched XAuth, a platform for
automating the way users share content on social networks, with partners
Google, MySpace, Microsoft, Yahoo and others.
While Facebook is focused on helping its users share info
within the Facebook social graph, the group supporting XAuth wants to let
Website viusitors share info with Facebook and myriad other social sites.
Meebo told eWEEK that a publisher can add an XAuth
sharing tool, such as the Meebo social toolbar
, to their Website. That tool will detect which social
networks and communications tools the user is actively using and offer users
buttons that will let them post content to those sites. This is an open,
cross-Website sharing tool.
Meebo's effort is also likely a reaction to the now
oldish rumor that Facebook is also planning to release a Meebo-like toolbar for
Websites to put at the bottom of their Web pages. This toolbar, according to
the Times story, will build on Facebook Connect to help more users log in to participating
High-tech media and other Web media-savvy publications offer
numerous buttons to let users launch content they like to Digg, del.icio.us,
Twitter, Facebook and Google Buzz.
It isn't clear whether this has caught
on among the broad consumer base outside high-tech elitist circles from Silicon
Valley to Silicon Alley. Asking the average user to share their credentials and
preferences from social networks with other Websites could be pushing the limits of their collective creepy meters
Count Forrester Research analyst Augie Ray
among the true believers that online sharing is where it's at.
"Online sharing has been possible since the early
days of the Internet, when services such as Prodigy and Geocities offered "Personal
Web Pages," Ray told eWEEK. "We saw online sharing jump when blogging
tools like Blogger and Wordpress made blogging simple. And we saw a huge leap
in sharing when Facebook, Twitter and others made it drop-dead easy for people
to share what they found with friends, family and peers.
Accordingly, he believes there is a high likelihood consumers
will use the Facebook and Meebo XAuth sharing tools to share information via
their social networks. Ray offered a caveat:
"However, they key to success won't be simply to
drop Universal Like buttons or some other sharing mechanism on every page but
instead to consider what consumers will want to share," he said.
that don't offer the content or experiences people care to share will see
little benefit from implementing these sorts of sharing tools, but brands that
give people a reason to share will see benefits -- and provide benefits -- in