Mike Isaac

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Facebook Recommendations Bar Plugin Rolls Out to Web Publishers

Facebook launched its recommendations bar on Thursday morning, a plugin that aims to recirculate reader traffic for Web publishers.

The feature acts like so: As users read articles on a Web site and scroll to the bottom of the page, the bar pops up with other story suggestions from the site. Those recommendations are based on articles that users’ friends have already “Liked,” and only articles from within that particular Web site.

To further engagement and traffic, stories users have read are published on their Facebook Timelines and appear in the News Feed, luring their networks of friends into checking out the article, as well.

It’s one part of Facebook’s entire social plugin suite, a set of tools that hook into publishing platform backends to incorporate Facebook widgets into Web sites. The list of other items includes the ubiquitous “Like” button, “Subscribe” button and “Comments” sections.

It’s also Facebook’s attempt at further edging in on territory already occupied by Disqus, the commenting system add-on that first gained popularity with publishers looking to grow their comments sections.

While Disqus was first to strike, Facebook’s massive user base and streamlined authentication platform makes it easier for visitors to sign in and comment on Web sites, giving publishers more incentive to go with Facebook’s plugins over Disqus’s (though to combat this, Disqus recently underwent a total makeover aimed at increasing social engagement).

Publishers have added incentive to install Facebook’s recommendations bar, as friend suggestions may increase the likelihood of clickthrough to additional articles over a nonpersonalized “see also” list of links.

While initially in a limited partnership pilot program, the bar rolls out widely to all publishers as of Thursday.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik