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Facebook’s Open Graph – The Good, The Bad And The Ugly 26 April 2010

Posted by nsiegel922 in Development, Tools & Tech, Trends.
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Unless you have been hiding under a rock, it is pretty difficult to avoid buzz on Facebook’s latest development.  Last week’s news announcing Facebook’s Open Graph has garnered a slew of both criticism and praise.   Some describe this personalization of the web as leaving us “socially naked.”  Others love the idea of a customizable online experience.  Upon reading some of the industry’s leading blogs and newsletters, I’ve summed up some of the feedback on Facebook’s new technology:

Criticism

Privacy seems to be something that we have just given up on.  In many cases, if you are going to be on the social web, especially now with Open Graph, you are granting marketers (and other users) access to personal data galore.   According to a Mashable blog post on April 22, 2010:

It’s going to be hard to keep track of all of the personal data you’ll be publishing to the graph for all to see — and there might be some opportunities for abuse by less scrupulous companies.

Start-ups and analytics companies who pride themselves in providing targeted data and insightful metrics will likely be pushed out of the market.  Cookies and information retrieved from logging in the old fashion way are soon going to be methods of the past.  There will be no need for these kinds of analytics when users are simply handing over their preferences, behaviors and friends on a silver platter.  As quoted in a blog post on Read Write Web, April 21, 2010, the Open Graph, “may have created the biggest disruption to web traffic analytics in years: demographically verified visitor stats tied to people’s real identities.”

Furthermore, Facebook seems to spring these changes affecting privacy without any warning to its users.  Take for example the update back in December of 2009 to make all profile information searchable on the web (unless opting out). Without warning, Facebook user names, profile pictures, gender, current city, networks, friends list, etc. became publicly available information on Facebook and searchable on the web.

Praise

Being able to socialize the web is certainly a revolutionary concept.  For marketers previously lacking insight into their users, Facebook’s Open Graph has opened up an outlet to an abundance of valuable data to which they have not had access in the past.   This influx of data allows for more personal and relevant targeting as well as relationship building with consumers.

Sharing preferences, interests, habits and friends through Open Graph allows marketers to create a more customizable web experience, minimizing clutter and irrelevant content.  Mashable contributor Samuel Axon points out that “having your web experience customized to your tastes, interests and relationships is appealing.”

As for my opinion on Open Graph, my mind is yet to be made up.   On a personal level, I do feel like this jeopardizes our privacy and somewhat defeats the purpose of having a social network – it’s no longer about having a private circle of friends but rather an open forum.  However, as a professional in the digital media industry, I am completely impressed by this revolution of data sharing, and as long as it doesn’t get too invasive, I believe it could do wonders for marketers looking to effectively reach their target audience.

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