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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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work