Facebook Offers Social Plugins, Open Graph, Graph API at F8

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-04-21

Facebook April 21 unveiled a Facebook Platform redesigned to let Website publishers build a bridge between their content and users' Facebook information.

The new Facebook Platform, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other executives unveiled at the company's F8 developer's conference in San Francisco April 21, supports Social Plugins.

These plug-ins require only one line of HTML or XFBML (Facebook markup language) tags to let publishers port Facebook's social graph to their Website.

The plug-ins include the widely reported-on Like button, which lets users share Website content they enjoyed.

An Activity Feed plug-in shows users what their friends have liked on a Website. The Recommendations plug-in gives users content suggestions from the site. Finally, the Facepile plug-in shows profile pictures of the user's friends who have already signed up on a Website.

More than 75 partners are launching Social Plugins of some sort today, and Zuckerberg said he expects these partners will serve more than 1 billion Like buttons.

Zuckerberg also introduced the Open Graph Protocol, which allows any Web page to become part of the Facebook social graph.

Specifically, when a user clicks a Facebook Like button on a Website enabled by the Open Graph Protocol, the publisher will gain a link from the user's profile, the ability to publish to the user's News Feed, inclusion in search on Facebook and analytics.

Facebook partners for the Open Graph that feature the Like buttons will push to Facebook information about items their visitors liked-for example, bands that users liked from Pandora, local businesses such as restaurants from Yelp and movies from IMDB.com. Information about objects users click on will appear in users' profiles as items they endorse.

"If I'm on IMDB and I visit 'The Godfather' and I click 'Like,' it's going to go to my Facebook stream just like shares do today," said Facebook Director of Products Bret Taylor, adding that IMDB information from about the film will go into the movie section of his profile.

When a friend visits Taylor's profile and hovers over that movie link he's going to see that it came from IMDB and will be able to connect to that exact IMDB page with a Like button from Facebook.com.

The idea is to help publishers better connect with the people coming to visit their Websites so they can place more relevant content in front of visitors based on their interests.

"We're building toward a Web where the default is social," Zuckerberg said. "Every application and product will be designed from the ground up to use real identity and friends."

Zuckerberg also unveiled an integration between Docs.com from Microsoft FUSE (Future Social Experiences) Labs and Facebook. Specifically, FUSE Labs created Docs, a new Facebook application built on the emerging Microsoft Office 2010 that lets the more than 400 million Facebook users create and share Office documents directly with their friends.

Finally, Taylor said Facebook has simplified its Graph API for Facebook Platform to make all objects and APIs accessible via URLs.

Perhaps even more exciting for standards junkies is that Facebook has adopted OAuth 2.0, an authentication and authorization protocol developers will use to connect to Facebook Platform. OAuth 2.0 is already used by Google, Twitter, Yahoo and others.

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