Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

The Big Picture of Facebook f8: Prepare for the Oversharing Explosion

Facebook, as expected, will launch a set of tools and partnerships today that is aimed at socializing users’ activities all over the Web.

What does this all mean? Lots and lots more sharing, and probably a good amount of oversharing, that’s what.

It’s infinitely easier to consume something than to make an active decision to share it with other people. Facebook’s new real-time “ticker” stream of everything users read, watch and listen to (and also tag, friend and like) could turn every act of online consumption into something that’s now shared with friends.

Now Facebook users won’t necessarily have to endorse or recommend something by liking it, or exert themselves to come up with a witty comment. They can just keep reading, watching and listening as they always have.

Or they can head over to Facebook, see what their friends are doing at that moment, and join right in.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been positing since at least 2008 that every year Internet users share twice as much information as the year before.

He’s about to give this so-called “Zuckerberg’s Law” a big push.

It’s not hard to imagine Facebook sharing more than doubling after the f8 launches. Millions of tiny little actions are going to move from implicit to explicit. You can start to see why Facebook enabled its “ticker” news feed earlier this week (that’s the dizzying real-time stream that many users have been complaining about). There’s going to be a ton of information flying by.

Of course, many people no longer trust Facebook and its endless revisions and privacy incursions. It seems inevitable that people will feel exposed and exploited when everything they read, watch or listen to is shared.

So we’ll all be watching to see how Facebook and its partners control the privacy settings on this one. At the very least, there needs to be a very prominent and easy-to-use incognito mode.

But at the same time, what Facebook is doing isn’t new — it’s just turbocharging passive sharing with its social network. For instance, Last.fm, which “scrobbles” and shares users’ music listening item by item, was founded in 2002.

Later, in 2009, the Huffington Post built one of the most involved Facebook Connect implementations to date, in which participating users share every single article they read on the news site through Facebook. This functionality is basically what Facebook is going to be enabling and pushing to a mass of content sites now.

(In fact, Facebook had already built a version of this real-time automated sharing tool for “canvas” apps that run within Facebook, having launched a “games ticker” in August.)

Another thing to look for Thursday is how Facebook handles the contextualization of this flooding stream, since Web users consume mountains of content these days. Every once in a while I look at my own browser history and I’m shocked at how many pages I visited in the span of a few minutes.

According to sources, Facebook has built some interesting new interfaces around chronological views, consumption histories and item grouping.

We’ll make sure to look for that, and we’ll also be listening for whether Facebook addresses how advertisers and sponsored stories fit into the ticker.

On that note, team AllThingsD will be at f8 Thursday (tune in at 10 am PT here and/or to the Facebook live video stream) and will provide coverage and analysis throughout the day to overshare our content, too.

Please see the disclosure about Facebook in my ethics statement.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus