The ‘like’ button grows up

Dear ordinary Facebook user. If you’re not a developer, or ‘social media guru’ you probably didn’t watch Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote speech last week; you probably haven’t read about the open graph protocol, and you probably haven’t tried out any of the new social plugins that Facebook have released. Because of this you may not be aware of some seemingly small changes that affect you more than you might think.

Here’s one: the ‘like’ button. This has become more than just a casual way to show your friends you think something is cool. It’s become more powerful for advertisers, more useful for Facebook, and for you … ? You’re going to start seeing ‘like’ buttons all over other websites, including this one; What you probably won’t realise straight away is what it means to click this. Clicking a ‘like’ button on anything, anywhere instantly creates a Facebook ‘page’ for that ‘thing‘ and makes you a ‘fan’. Being a fan of a page (as you probably know) means the owner of that page can publish content into your news feed. So, essentially, by clicking my ‘like’ button on this page is the same as you saying you want to be a fan of this article and you want to allow me to deliver content to you about it any time I like. All at the casual click of a button.

There, that’s it. I just thought you should know. Make up your own mind about whether you think this is sneaky or not. Personally, I think it is. Here’s a good article on the topic by Channel 4’s technology correspondent.

I’ll be writing more about the announcements from F8 and Chirp later on. This was just a quickie, because I think the ~400 million Facebook users that aren’t Internet professionals need to be kept in the loop.