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Graphing Social Patterns: Facebook aspires to the frictionless platform

Ben Ling, director of product marketing for the Facebook platform, gave a brief peek of the upcoming profile page update at Graphing Social Patterns conference and detailed some new capabilities for the social network's 200,000 developers.

Ben Ling, director of product marketing for the Facebook platform, gave a brief peek of the upcoming profile page update and outlined Facebook's vision at Graphing Social Patterns conference. The new profile page will combine the Wall and Minifeed, and additional tabs have been added to showcase users' favorite apps.


Ling said that Facebook has 200,000 developers and 16,000 applications so far. Of the 66 million current Facebook users, 98 percent have used at least one third-party application, and a significant number use six or seven applications, he said.

Ling described Facebook's vision as making its platform more frictionless for developers and users, as well as for Facebook itself.

He went over some of the frictionless initiatives aimed at developers, such as using Joyent, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Popfly to deliver applications, and the Facebook Platform MarketPlace. Facebook is planning to provide developers native support for accepting credit cards to help them monetize their applications. The feature will be available later this year, Ling said.

He also noted the user-driven internationalization efforts, resulting in Facebook translated into languages such as Spanish and German.

Ling noted that sports, music, religion and productivity are seed verticals that Facebook will be supporting via its investment fund.

Ling was asked about companies other than Bebo who have licensed the Facebook platform. He said Facebook was in discussions with companies ranging from the largest to the smaller players, but he had nothing to announce.

On the subject of data portability, the capability to take use the social graph outside of the Facebook, Ling said the Facebook is committed to enable users on Facebook to use the social graph in a variety of other contexts. Allowing to users to move add Facebook contact information to their cell phones is one example of data portability a reasonable scenario, but allowing a friend to suck up all your data related to your friends is an unacceptable use case, Ling noted.

"We at Facebook are thinking significantly on how to make that happen," he said.

Ling spent part of his talk explaining the basics of Facebook, such as how the social graph relates people and provides alerts, and that applications need to leverage the social graph. The Facebook troops, from CEO Mark Zuckerberg on down, have mastered the art of the structured presentation, staying on message and not giving away too much. Ling has had some previous practice in making corporate presentation--prior to Facebook he was general manager of eCommerce at Google, where he founded Google Checkout and managed Google Product Search.

Ben Ling, director of product marketing for the Facebook platform Dan Farber