Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

The Most Interesting Uses of Facebook’s New Open Graph

As I told you yesterday would happen, and as had been expected for a while, Facebook tonight added tools to help more than 60 food, fashion, fitness, travel and other applications share users’ activity to Facebook more smoothly, precisely and automatically.

These are similar to the integrations Facebook did last fall with Yahoo, Rdio, Netflix and other sites for sharing each time a user accesses news stories, music or videos.

Now, developers can choose their own action verbs in addition to “read,” “listen” and “watch.” Some of the ones I heard tonight were “want,” “own,” “nom,” “crave,” “pin,” “pose,” “go” and “see.”

In my view, the new class of apps also includes significantly clearer privacy settings than when the first Open Graph apps launched and users were often unclear about when they were sharing what content with whom.

(See a screenshot above from when I installed the new USATODAY+me app today. If you’re already connected to Facebook through an older version of a participating app, next time you use it, you’ll be asked to re-approve its sharing settings.)

Before and at the launch event, I spoke to a bunch of the partners. Here are the new implementations I found most interesting.

User rewards: Facebook and other sites seem only to take, take, take your data. Fab.com will actually pay users for opting in to share their purchase activity. For the first five months, Fab users who opt into the Facebook social shopping integration will get $10 of credits per month.

Handling purchases: Another interesting thing Fab is doing is automatically hiding when users purchase an item that’s denoted as a gift or that’s an adult product. That may help avoid unhappy or unwanted sharing incidents, like that time back in 2007 when Facebook’s ill-fated Beacon product broadcast a guy’s purchase of an engagement ring on Overstock.com to his Facebook wall.

In fact, another e-commerce partner, Payvment, told me it has decided to avoid sharing when users buy things. Instead, it will focus on less controversial fare like helping users create wish lists and polls.

Mashups: Ticketmaster is doing all the normal stuff you’d expect to help users share with each other when they buy tickets to events. But it’s also the only partner that I saw mashing up multiple Open Graph applications.

If you listen to music on an Open Graph application like Spotify, Ticketmaster automatically detects (with your permission) and tells you when those artists are next playing in your town. Usually these apps depend on which artists you “Like” or explicitly follow. It seems smart to use real, dynamic listening data to figure this out.

Map and graph views: This is a bit of a tease because Facebook hasn’t enabled it yet, but apps like Foodspotting (users upload pictures of food) and Kobo (an e-book reader) told me about some neat visualizations they’d do with aggregate data in users’ Facebook Timelines. For instance, Foodspotting will show on a map all the food you’ve recorded, and Kobo will make pretty charts and timelines of your reading activity.

Right now, apps are mainly allowed to post simple activity records in users’ Timelines, plus they can compile monthly and yearly reports that are basically just pictures with captions. Kinda boring.

Some of the other applications participating in the launch tonight included RockMelt, TripAdvisor, Polyvore, Rotten Tomatoes, Pinterest, LivingSocial and Zynga’s Words With Friends and CastleVille.

Also, starting now, Facebook said it will will approve new Open Graph apps and Actions on a rolling basis.

Please see the disclosure about Facebook in my ethics statement.


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