Facebook widens reach to tailor broader web

Facebook widens reach to tailor broader web

Facebook widens reach to tailor broader web

stepping ahead: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg delivers the opening keynote address at the f8 Developer Conference on Wednesday in San Francisco, California. AFP

The move could change the way people experience the online world, though it could come with deeper privacy implications. By accessing Facebook’s tools, websites will be able to customise the experience based on the list of friends, favourite bands and other things users have shared on their Facebook profiles.

“The web is at a really important turning point now,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at a conference for Web and software developers in San Francisco. “Most things aren’t social and they don’t use your real identity. This is really starting to change.”

It already has, with Facebook among its earliest pioneers. The world’s largest online social network has long insisted, with varying success, that its users go by their real identities when they sign up for the service, offering a contrast to the culture of pseudonyms common elsewhere online. And Facebook has sometimes transported those identities beyond its own service.

The latest changes take this a step further. It means Facebook users will be able to see a web tailored to them based on their interests and social connections, as long as they are already logged in to Facebook. So when visiting a news site for the first time, they could see which of their Facebook friends liked recent articles. A music site such as Pandora, meanwhile, could start playing music from the user’s favourite bands.

Users will also be able to share items on their Facebook profiles without leaving the other websites, simply by clicking “like” buttons next to the news article or other items they are reading.

Zuckerberg told developers at the f8 conference that the experience will mean a more personalised, social, smarter Web.

“There is an old saying that says when you go to heaven, all of your friends are there and everything is just the way you want it to be,” Zuckerberg said. “So together let’s make a world that’s that good.” Precisely because people use their real identities on Facebook, and share things they don’t want the world to know, the company’s latest plans could backfire if it doesn’t make it clear what it’s trying to do.

“How many people are really going to want all this information about them shared?” said Greg Sterling, an Internet analyst who also writes for SearchEngineLand.com. “That’s the big unanswered question here.” If users embrace it, Facebook could gain valuable insights that could help it sell more advertising, potentially rivalling online ad leader Google Inc, which typically tailors ads based on keywords in search terms and web content.