Facebook is bigger than it has ever been, not just in size of users but also in the time users spend on it Facebook Passes Google In “Time Spent,” with users spending almost 10% of all their website time on Facebook.
This has led to Facebook becoming a much greater marketing arena for brands. With many of the big brands having their own pages on Facebook, some even sell on facebook. Some are really clever and look to leverage the power of social recommendations How Benefit Cosmetics gave their customers a voice on Facebook (and won a Shorty Award)
But that’s not what I wanted to write about today. What I find really interesting is the reverse of this, using the Facebook API to pull data out of facebook and use it on a website. A obvious example of this is the recent ability to have a Facebook comments function on your site. As demonstrated here at Mashable http://mashable.com/2011/03/01/facebook-comments-plugin/ The advantage of Facebook comments is that it adds the social dimension to comments, you can quickly find any comments left by your friends, or you can read about who a commenter is easily which could add legitimacy to their post.
But what I find really interesting are the companies who are making their own technologies to utilise Facebook API data
A colleague showed me an example of this on Amazon.com -
By letting Amazon connect to my facebook account it can pull in all my friends information from their facebook profiles, Amazon then sorts this to give a page of Book, Movie and Music recommendations based upon all your friends, it also allows you to click on any individual and receive recommendations for them based upon their Facebook profile data
This gave me two lines of thoughts,
1 – There are endless possibilities
2 – If any of my friends are able to share my data is my data safe?
The Endless Possibilities
What Amazon is doing is fairly basic, they are just looking for common words in the facebook interests data to pull together those items as recommendations, then also related items based on their own recommendations algorithm. I don’t believe that Amazon are able to see email addresses, but with the name and Birth date and location they must be able to make an intelligent guess at who that user is. Indeed when you select a particular Facebook friend they ask whether you can match up the relevant wish list.
This seems a good compromise for data as finding your friends wish list would give you a good idea of what to buy that friend, whereas (if I’m anything to go by) their facebook interests may not have been updated since they joined facebook!
If any of my Friends are able to share my data is my data safe
It seems scary that at the click of one button I can export the data of 150+ friends out of facebook and off to an external site, now I trust Amazon but anyone can make a facebook app, request this information, and users will just blindly click it. Trawling through the facebook privacy settings there is an option to set what data your friends can share. I’ve set it to nothing, but I would rather receive a request to share data with an app as I would like to choose apps where my friends could see me rather than issue a blanket NO!
Facebook is just one example of a site with a database of users sharing their data with other companies, other examples include Android, Apple, and any social site. Currently users will just click those annoying pop up screens so they can play a game not realising the data being shared but it will only take a few misuses of that data till people become more careful.
What is the future? Do we want a personalised experience everywhere we go? Is giving up our personal data too much for this?
Leave a comment if you have any views, or if you have seen any other examples of a site integrating with Facebook in a innovative way.