Ina Fried

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Facebook Answers Some Questions About Its New Social Order

After outlining a host of changes coming to the world’s largest social network, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and some of his top lieutenants are due to take questions from the media any minute now.

AllThingsD will have live coverage here.

12:30 pm: Okay. Q & A kicking off.

First question is on whether Open Graph will eventually allow other types of devices to connect, such as perhaps cars.

Bret Taylor: That’s certainly our vision. Today, a Web browser is required.

12:32 pm: Question Two: Did you need to re-architect Facebook for Timeline, to access and store older information?

For Timeline we did build a new backend to store and query, says engineering head Mike Schroepfer.

12:34 pm: No Zuck at the Q and A yet, by the way.

Some questions about the Graph Rank, about how it will work and how Facebook will keep people from gaming the system.

Taylor: As a user of an app, all this is based on the explicit signals you’ve given.

12:37 pm: Have you guys spoken to Apple?

Today’s launch was just with a few launch partners, Taylor said.

“It’s obviously our ambition to have every app be socialized, so long term, hopefully [re: Apple],” Taylor said.

12:39 pm: So in advance of the inevitable criticisms over change and privacy, what’s your take?

Chris Cox: Facebook is going slowly, publishing a lot of material on what it is doing. “It’s not like people are going to log in one day and everything has changed on their profile,” Cox said.

Taylor adds that the company has worked with a number of privacy advocates on the changes. In particular, there are new dialog boxes that not only tell what an app will post, but also show the kind of information an app will post to their timeline.

You can also limit how many people an app shares information with. For example, when you agree to let the IHeartRadio app broadcast every song you listen to, you can limit it to your three friends that won’t judge you for playing Wilson Phillips.

12:43 pm: What do you think of the comparison to Facebook’s ill-fated Beacon from a few years ago, which didn’t roll out so well, and what about people who don’t opt-in?

Eventually we will have to move people over, Cox acknowledges. As for the comparison to Beacon, Cox refers to the clear presentation of whatever an app wants to share.

“We’ve learned a lot since 2007,” Cox said.

Schroepfer adds that you have to explicitly install one of these new Timeline-compatible apps.

12:45 pm: Zuck has arrived.

12:46 pm: News nugget: Facebook now has 800 million users.

I asked a question about the app discovery experience that Facebook is building. So is it an app store or just part of the general profile/timeline experience?

“We’re not really planning an app store,” Taylor said. “The main way people find apps on Facebook is through their friends.”

That doesn’t preclude us from doing something like an app directory eventually, he said.

12:50 pm: So, if I have logged into sharing my music, is there a way to prevent sharing that Brittany Spears song? (Someone else asked that. My bad music is MUCH more embarassing.)

Zuckerberg: You can always change afterwards. Some apps will also allow you to have more granular control over what you share from within the app.

12:51 pm: Can you create a timeline for a public celebrity page or for a brand?

The first version is just for individuals, Zuckerberg said, adding that the team was working on this for about a year.

12:52 pm: Zuckerberg was asked if these features appeal more to younger people.

We definitely find the different age groups do stuff differently. “I think the Timeline piece is going to be really universal,” Zuckerberg said.

12:54 pm: Zuckerberg asked whether people overreact about changes and privacy.

“The recent updates we did with news feed and ticker, we’ve actually been testing that publicly for a couple of months,” Zuckerberg said. As for apps, Zuckerberg notes that things only change when a user actively chooses to install one.

As for Timeline, he noted that the company is starting by rolling out to a small number of people and will likely make changes along the way.

“We’re definitely going to get a lot of feedback for that,” he said. “I think we do listen. Also, the world is moving quickly and we want to be innovative.

Zuckerberg wraps up the Q and A.

“This is the biggest update we’ve done in a long time.”

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— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle