A View from Kate Greene
Facebook Finds New Friends
What happens when you can take your friends with you online?
A few days ago, social networking site Facebook revealed more details about an initiative called Facebook Connect, a service that will let partners integrate the company’s social networking features with their site.
More and more sites that provide content–including Technology Review–require registration to access certain features, like adding comments to articles. But with Facebook Connect, people can use their Facebook identification to log-on, comment on stories, and even post their activity to their Facebook news feed.
According to the New York Times, a number of sites will soon be using Facebook’s service, including the Discovery Channel, The San Francisco Chronicle, the news aggregation site Digg, the genealogy network Geni, and online video site Hulu.
Techcrunch also recently announced its participation in Facebook Connect:
TechCrunch readers can now use their Facebook accounts to sign in before leaving comments. Doing so yields several benefits. Most immediately, you’ll no longer have to enter a name, email address and website manually before dropping your two cents. Just click once on the “Connect” button that sits next to the comment form and we’ll automatically detect who you are, even on return visits.
Hooking things up with Facebook also lets us display your profile portrait in miniature form next to your name in the header of comments. Your name conveniently links to your Facebook profile as well, making it easier for other commenters to get in touch with you and perhaps become your virtual friends. But Facebook Connect doesn’t let information flow just one way. You can now post notifications of your comments to your Facebook wall whenever contributing here on TechCrunch.
After hitting the “Add Comment” button, just select a type of feed item (which Facebook calls a “story”) and your friends on Facebook will have the chance to appreciate your snark and wit.
In many ways, Facebook Connect is a more thoughtful version of Beacon, the failed advertising program that Facebook introduced last year. Beacon proved so controversial because it didn’t warn users properly when their actions on other sites would be broadcast to their Facebook network. Facebook Connect should also appeal to sites that have struggled to build their own social network of users, as well as to users who want a single log-on for many sites.
However, it’s still unclear how fine the privacy controls will be. In a Techcrunch post, which includes a screen shot, it looks as though users can choose between “always” or “never” sharing their posts on Facebook. Presumably any action in between must be taken manually, something that some users may quickly grow weary of.