Last week Facebook announced some significant updates to its API at its F8 developers’ conference.

Basically this change allows any page on the internet to now have a “Like” button, which will cause it to behave like a Facebook fan page. When a visitor clicks that button, your page will show up in the activity stream on Facebook without any further action on their part.

Facebook can accomplish this by reading the meta tags of your pages using ther new Open Graph protocol. The required meta tags are title, type, url, site_name, and image, with a few additional optional ones. Thanks to these, the Like button figures out how to display your site in the user’s Facebook news feed, categorize it, and link back to it. The Open Graph protocol is detailed on Facebook’s Documentation site.

As with a regular Facebook fan page, if you link that Like button to your Facebook account, you then gain the ability to message all the people who’ve liked your page. Imagine the possibilities. This allows to harness the good will of your social networking base to promote your site!

This new functionality comes with a new Graph API for developers to read and write Facebook data, and a few new “social plugins” for your site to interact with Facebook.

The changes make it extremely easy for developers make their pages more shareable without having to devote resources to creating a separate Facebook fan page that then needs to be updated. This is even more significant when it comes to sites that contain hundreds or thousands of pages they’d like Facebook users to be able to share. The example given on the Facebook development blog is, which has a Like button for each movie and actor page.

On the flip side, some might see these developments as Facebook wanting its users to consider the entire Internet as part of Facebook. As a web designer or developer, how do you see this change?
Please let us know your opinion

Will you rush to enable all your pages with Facebook's Open Graph?

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2 Responses to “Facebook’s New Open Graph API”

  1. Martha Fait says:

    This program of Facebook’s is not written correctly to be able to perform in the fashion they desire. In part of their programming, you should only be friends with people you know. With this “like” button, they connect you with all the people who like that page, even if you don’t know them. I had experienced severe violations of my privacy along with spam worms that are constantly running wild with my friends, who I might add, are credible individuals. I have had serious problems since this crazy linking started and wish to discontinue my account due to the seriousness of my problems.

    If there was a smart computer programmer, I could better explain the complexity of the issues that this has caused. It seems to me that Facebook is into making money and does not care what the consequences to individuals are or people’s personal computers that are put in harms way.

  2. admin says:

    Martha- Your concerns are shared by many other individuals on the internet. Facebook often takes a policy of “pushing the envelope” on privacy and then rolling back those changes if there is significant public outcry. It will be interesting to see how this API integration progresses over time.

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