Are Facebook widgets on the way?

Sources tell CNET News.com that a big announcement coming this week will, as rumored, incorporate a number of partnerships to bring third-party content to the social-networking site.

Facebook, which says it's making a big announcement this week, is trying to keep details under wraps. But that hasn't stopped the Internet's rabid .

Last month, word began to circulate that Facebook was working on a deal to introduce third-party widgets (embeddable code containing external content like music or video) into its member profiles. And early in May, several blogs reported that Facebook was rumored to be launching a music service on Monday--a bit of speculation that does not appear to have been true. But one thing that is confirmed is that Facebook will hold an event in San Francisco on Thursday that the company touts as "the unveiling of the next evolution of Facebook."

Monday's Wall Street Journal appears to have leaked some details about the event, which Facebook has otherwise kept on the down-low. Thursday's event will kick off "a new strategy to let other companies promote their services on special pages" within Facebook, the article by Vauhini Vara speculated, citing sources familiar with the deal who added that Facebook did not seem to have any plans for revenue sharing. "An online retailer could build a service in Facebook to let people recommend music or books to their friends," Vara continued, "or a media company could let groups of users share news articles with each other."

A source close to the partnerships told CNET News.com Monday that the Wall Street Journal article was largely accurate, but hinted that there would be a distinct focus on user-generated content and third-party widgets. The undisclosed lineup of partners, the source added, will be an impressive one.

While Facebook allows members to "share" bits of content through links on their profiles, it currently does not permit them to embed code for third-party widgets. Its chief rival, MySpace.com, does, but has opted to block content from some widget manufacturers, typically citing terms-of-service violations or copyright complaints. Since then, MySpace has been pursuing a strategy of acquisitions rather than partnerships when it comes to widgets.

A Facebook representative said the company "really can't comment on anything that's speculation or rumor at this point" and had not officially spoken to the Wall Street Journal about the details published Monday.

Facebook, which launched a classified ads service earlier this month, had initially sent an invitation to members of the press in late April. The invitation said the May 24 event would reveal the site's "vision to empower developers worldwide with the Facebook Platform," and would include a "hackathon" with Facebook engineers as well as external developers and partners. Facebook has already opened an API to let developers in and create third-party applications centered around Facebook accounts, but Thursday's announcement will presumably open the site up a bit more.

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About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.

 

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