Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Developers Get Ready To Tell Facebook About Every “Action” You Take

Facebook will on Wednesday launch the Open Graph applications it first debuted last September, sources told AllThingsD. These are the apps, made by outside developers, that “frictionlessly” and continuously share users’ actions back to Facebook after a user has given permission once.

The new apps behave similarly to the “read,” “listen” and “watch” Open Graph applications that have already rolled out in the past few months, which include the Washington Post, Spotify and Hulu. So every time your friends read an article or listen to a song, you might now learn about it on Facebook, and possibly even join them in reading or listening at the same time.

Outside developers have been furiously coding other custom actions since September; and recently, many have been waiting on Facebook, so they can make them available to users.

Facebook has invited press to an unveiling event on Wednesday evening in San Francisco — where it will launch the first batch of these apps, sources confirmed.

Facebook did not reply to requests for comment, though it did send us invitations to the event.

This may well be one of Facebook’s last big press conferences before it files to go public and enters a quiet period, during which financial regulations keep it from commenting on its products, business or criticism from competitors and analysts.

The timing of the Wednesday press event aligns with Facebook’s last public guidance on the subject. The company told developers in late December that since its Timeline profile design was being rolled out worldwide, Open Graph Actions would start being approved in January.

Currently, Facebook Timeline is available to users on an opt-in basis. At some point soon — perhaps as early as this week — Facebook will start requiring users to migrate to the new design.

That’s because Open Graph and Timeline go hand in hand; the idea is for each user’s activity across various Web sites and apps, both on and off of Facebook, to be aggregated as a visual living record of his or her life.

What kind of Actions will developers build on the Open Graph? Some examples include tracking a workout with a GPS device, completing a recipe from a cooking site, or buying an item on an e-commerce site. Those Actions could be expressed on Facebook with verbs like “run,” “cook” or “purchase.”

Along with the new verbs will surely come Facebook’s usual problems: Unanticipated incursions into user privacy, people who hate change, and profligate oversharing.

Sources said that in the lead-up to the launch, Facebook has been busy working on things like how to conjugate the verbs for the Open Graph Actions.

Facebook told developers their Actions must be “simple, genuine and non-abusive.”

To Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who is known to have studied Latin, I say: Just remember, “Veni, vidi, vici!”

Perhaps I should have saved that joke for our live coverage, which you’ll be able to find here Wednesday at about 5 p.m. PT.

Please see the disclosure about Facebook in my ethics statement.

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