Unless your internet has been down for the past week, you should be aware of Facebook’s latest move toward internet dominance:Â the Facebook Plugin.
The premise is simple:Â A website has a piece of code on its site that will display a Facebook box.Â When you are logged into Facebook, this frame will use your social network to show you relevant things your social network think and feels, that is related to the website you’re visiting.
For example, say you’re looking at the website of a new restaurant you want to try out.Â On the page, you see the Facebook Plugin – and 8 of your friends have Liked it.Â Will this influence your likelihood of going to the restaurant (or buying a product or service online)?Â Facebook seems to think so.Â Put in the Facebook Team’s own words.
Rather than seeing popular stories, products or reviews from people you don’t know, you’ll now see content that matters to you the most–from your friends–displayed prominently.
This definitely registers as an attempt to one-up Google – how better to customize someone’s online experience than by tailoring it around their social network?
While Facebook Plugins may be a great way to customize your internet browsing experience, there are many people who ‘dislike’ this new development.Â More than a few Facebook users – and some politicians, security officials, etc – are worried about the implications for personal privacy.Â Facebook has rushed to dispel these worries, citing that only people you’re already friends with – who can already see what you’re doing through Facebook, anyway – will be able to see what sites you like.Â This may be true, but displaying it on a website makes the information more easily available.Â Furthermore, critics worry, there is no telling what additional information may be displayed as Facebook continues to develop its plugins.
Privacy issues aside, the ultimate litmus test for Facebook Plugins is whether or not people find them to be genuinely useful.Â If you’re using a service or buying a product you’ve never used before, does it make you more comfortable knowing your friends have tried it and liked it?Â If you’re thinking of heading to a bar and you see that only certain members of your social circle recommend it – will this be useful in deciding whether or not to go?Â Facebook thinks so.Â And time will tell if legions of online consumers think so, too.