Today Facebook announced the launch of their latest privacy-taunting feature, Facebook Connect, giving its members the option of using their log-ins to share and see their friends’ activities on a vast network of third-party sites. Now, when users are streaming videos on Hulu or reading the SF Chronicle, for example, they’ll be able to broadcast their doings to their circle of ‘friends’ simply by logging into their Facebook account.
While the web is already abuzz about the potential backlash from the service, NY Times points out its significance in the evolution of social media:
Supporters of [Facebook Connect] say such programs will help with the emergence of a new “social Web,” because chatter among friends will infiltrate even sites that have been entirely unsociable thus far.
For example, a person might alert his Facebook friends to the fact that he is watching a video on CBS.com and invite them to join him there to watch together and discuss the video as it plays.
“Everyone is looking for ways to make their Web sites more social,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer. “They can build their own social capabilities, but what will be more useful for them is building on top of a social system that people are already wedded to.”
And, the program could also help answer the question on many people’s minds – how Facebook plans on successfully monetizing its 120 million user-strong network. NY Times suggests the heaps of user data Facebook has been stockpiling will likely come into play, despite the company’s public backtreading with a similar tool, Beacon, last year:
Facebook has detailed information about its users: their real identities, what they like and dislike and whom they associate with. With a member’s permission, it could use that data to help other Web sites deliver more personalized ads. Similarly, those sites could tell Facebook what its users are doing elsewhere, helping to make its own ads more targeted.
“It’s becoming very clear that advertisers don’t know how to advertise on Facebook,” said Charlene Li, an independent consultant and social media analyst. “But if you take a group of Facebook friends and put them on a travel site where they are spending more time and generating more ad dollars in a focused area like travel, that is an opportunity ripe for getting revenues back and sharing it.”