Facebook Inc. announced a slew of new products to connect the social network with sites across the Web. These new features is an effort to make almost any conceivable Web site tightly integrated with Facebook.
The Like button that connects other sites back to Facebook is a key part of Facebook’s plan – Zuckerberg said that when the new products launch later today, “We’re going to serve one billion ‘like’ buttons on the Web” in the first 24 hours.
At the same time a coalition of companies led by startup Meebo Inc. are forming another way for people to share information. That group includes Google Inc. and News Corp.’s MySpace. Twitter Inc. is also seeking to expand its reach across the Web through its @anywhere service, which it announced last week.
With Facebook’s new changes, third party developers will get a strong connection with users who “like” content, according to Brett Taylor, the head of the Facebook Platform. People who click “like” on the ESPN page for a college football player such as Stanford’s Toby Gerhart, for example, will not only see that on their Facebook Newsfeed, but ESPN can later send a message when Gerhart is selected in the NFL draft to all the people who have liked him.
Facebook also released a number of Social Plug-Ins that developers can place on their sites. In one example, people can see a Facebook-style Newsfeed of all the activity their friends have made on that third-party site. In another, people can see personalized recommendations on that third-party site based on the activity of their Facebook friends. This is similar to the “most emailed” feature on news sites except it’s based on individuals’ Facebook friends. Facebook also released a Toolbar that developers can add to their sites to have their Facebook activity with them at all times.
And finally, Zuckerberg introduced a Microsoft product that will make use of Facebook’s technology. Docs.com, he said, would enable a user to see the document, edit it and share it with friends – it’s a direct shot at Google Docs. The product is the first Microsoft collaboration since the software company invested $240 million in Facebook in 2007 at a $15 billion valuation.
Zuckerberg has at times been criticized for a less-than-scintillating public persona, unlike other tech chieftains like Steve Jobs. But no one can accuse him of thinking small. He closed the keynote by saying, “When you go to heaven, all of your friends are there, and everything is just how you want it to be. Let’s make a world that’s that good.”
And in the Facebook afterlife, no doubt, we’ll all be able to click on the “like” button from the pearly gates.