Facebook has announced the next stages in its plan for world domination. At the Facebook-led F8 conference in San Francisco, Mark Zuckerberg and friends announced a deal with docs, and told us how we can now like the entire Internet. The new Open Graph platform puts 'like' buttons on Web sites outside of Facebook, and even logs you into sites automatically with your Facebok details.
Like the Web
The like button was introduced to Facebook in February 2009, allowing users to give a thumbs-up to links and posts on friends' Facebook walls and feeds without needing to leave an asinine comment. From today, other sites have introduced a like button, including CNN, IMDb and LoveFilm. This will give Facebook a huge amount of specific information on what users are interested in, which could prove very useful when targeting you with advertising.
To share something, you simply click the thumbs-up button and it appears on your wall without leaving the site you're on. Friends can't currently add likes or comment on these simple links. Some sites, including CNN, allow you to add comments from within the article, which turns your like into a full-blown post with thumbnail and comment options, again without leaving CNN.
Each like button includes a box showing how many people have liked that content, similar to the Tweetmeme retweet button -- up there on the left -- but with users' thumbnail pictures too. That means everywhere you surf on the Interwebs, your friends will be staring at you. If none of your friends have liked the content, you'll be enticed to 'be the first of your friends' to do so.
CNN's implementation highlights a flaw with the use of the word like and the thumbs-up logo as a catch-all for sharing. It substitutes 'recommend' rather than 'like' to avoid wall posts saying one of your friends "likes Belgium considers Islamic covering ban". Nobody wants to give a thumbs-up to Susan Boyle's autobiography to be published this fall.
The Web-wide like button is basically a replacement for the existing Facebook share button deployed by many sites -- look, there's one at the bottom of this story. It's no different to the sharing buttons used by digg, reddit and many others for donkey's aeons. A ground-breaking concept it ain't, but the like button boils sharing down to its simplest form, and with the small matter of nearly half a billion users, it could make social linking as important to Web 2.0 as hyperlinking is today.
Docs for Facebook
Next up is Docs for Facebook, which wires the social network together with Microsoft Office 2010 Web edition to let you work on documents. You can create or upload new Word, Excel or Powerpoint documents, and collaborate on them with your friends. Documents can be shared with specified friends, all friends, or made completely public. They can then be liked and commented on. A single button moves a document to your desktop version of the software for further editing.
Facebook ditched its always-on toolbar in the last site redesign, but there is talk that it may be coming back with a vengeance. A Facebook toolbar is in the works that will sit at the bottom of every Web site, allowing you to share content and access Facebook's instant messaging client from wherever you are.