SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook wants to pervade the Internet, turning every website into a de facto page at the world's leading online social network.
Facebook rolled out a series of features on Wednesday in what was pitched as an inevitable evolution to people taking online identities and friends with them wherever they roam on the Internet. "Until recently, most things (online) aren't social or don't use your real identity," said Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. "This is really starting to change."
Zuckerberg outlined his vision of an "open graph" after making a rock star entrance to applause at the California firm's annual "f8" developers conference in San Francisco. "Today, the Web exists as a series of unstructured links between pages," said Zuckerberg, whose social network boasts more than 400 million users around the globe. "The open graph puts people at the center of the Web."
As an example he described how a Facebook user could go to Internet radio station Pandora or sports-focused ESPN online and automatically share musical tastes or game news with their pals in the world's leading online community. "Pandora will be able to start playing music from bands you have liked all across the Web," Zuckerberg said. "It can show you which friends like music similar to what you are listening to, then you can click and listen to their collections."
Facebook vice president of engineering Mike Schroepfer compared the broader opportunities to share experiences and interests to "the restaurant where the maitre d' knows your name and that you like window tables. "It is an inherently better experience," he told AFP.
Freshly launched tools let developers install Facebook's recently adopted "Like" icons that let people signal interests with a single click and share them automatically with friends at participating websites. "People can have instantly social and personalized experiences everywhere they go," Zuckerberg said.
Movie website IMDb and technology colossus Microsoft, which owns a minor stake in Facebook, were among some 70 websites that have been testing the new software and have it in place. "You want to share stuff you care about with people you care about," Microsoft general manager of Future Social Experiences Labs told AFP at f8. "It's really about people."
Microsoft used Facebook tools to let members of the social network share online documents. Facebook's move has the potential to put the service at the heart of increasingly personalized online experiences, and wrest traffic from other Internet firms vying for people's attention and advertising dollars. "It is a very powerful anti-Google competitive move," said analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group in Silicon Valley.
"It's all about money and control; the two things consistent between Google, Facebook and Apple. They want to increasingly control their customers." People will have to sign into Facebook to use the social network's features at outside websites, with those hooks holding the potential for more attention and advertising.
Zuckerberg said Facebook has no plans to use the new developer tools to mine revenue but expects to benefit by strengthening bonds people have to the social networking service. "The more people use Facebook the stronger the bond," Zuckerberg said. "We serve ads and that is the business model that is working real well for us," he continued. "Other people are going to make a lot of money from this and that is really good."
While the social network's new tools have the potential to expand Facebook's presence throughout the Internet, it could mean people visit the firm's website less.
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