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Social kingpin makes an offer sites can't refuse: use Facebook plugins or become irrelevant.
Wednesday morning, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took to the stage at the company's f8 conference to make a series of announcements.
The most powerful of these was the Open Graph protocol. The company describes it as follows:
On Facebook, users build their profiles through connections to what they care about — be it their friends or their favorite sports teams, bottles of wine, or celebrities. The Open Graph protocol opens up the social graph and lets your pages become objects that users can add to their profiles. When a user establishes this connection by clicking Like on one of your Open Graph-enabled pages, you gain the lasting capabilities of Facebook Pages: a link from the user's profile, ability to publish to the user's News Feed, inclusion in search on Facebook, and analytics through our revamped Insights product.
This is a veiled "offer you can't refuse," with the classic components:
1) You're family, so we provide for you: we'll drive traffic to your site by permanently linking to you from users' profiles, giving you free advertising in news feeds and track that information.
2) All we ask in return is your loyalty: when a visitor does something on your site, you need to let us know.
3) If you don't, accept, well... you will except because otherwise, your people (our people) will think you are lame.
Oh, and while we're at it, we have a job for you: plugins. You should feel honored to take this on.
These tools are really a blessing, and you must incorporate them unless you want your visitors to be compeletely lost when they visit your site. You see, the mafia is everywhere now. Sure, we have "official" members that work at Facebook headquarters, but really everyone is a member. Every site and every web surfer. And pretty soon, once everyone comes to expect the social experience of Facebook at all sites online, you will stick out like a sore thumb if you don't use our tools.
Facebook's announcements today really could transform the internet, if the company's plan works. Zuckerberg himself put it best at Wednesday's conference: "We're building a Web where the default is social." Up till now, the default has been anonymous. This step forward would also be a very welcome (in my opinion) step back to the time when you were always identifiable in social settings. The Internet in its first 20 years was like a huge costume party, with guests encouraged to act out in ways they would never dream of doing in their own social circles. Convincing people to cruise down the intertubes without the tinted windows could automatically introduce a bit more civility and responsibility to online surfing and publishing habits.
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