Written by Super User
Facebook will soon allow its users to integrate all of their music, media, and lifestyle actions and interactions with their profiles, Mark Zuckerberg announced at Facebook’s f8 conference today. Connecting profiles to services like Spotify will allow users to fill out their own curated “Timeline,” so friends can see each others’ media activities both as individuals and aggregated over their entire network, a move that will explode the amount of content on the site.
The new arrangement is part of two new Facebook initiatives, one of which is the Timeline.
Users can fill in their Timelines with both content pulled in from other services—say, an article “liked” on Ars Technica or a game played—as well as “real world” activities like photos or status updates. The real world content can be filtered by date into the timeline, so users can fill in their backstory on the site with everything that happened before Facebook existed: moves to a new city, first words as a baby, or every single relationship breakup pre-2004.
Once in place, the timeline will be the new News Feed, with friends’ updates streaming past. But not everything will make it into the Timeline: small updates, like what music friends are listening to, may be relegated to the Ticker, the integrated online friends/status update bar rolled out Wednesday. Users will be able to choose which activities are significant enough to appear in their timelines.
Zuckerberg also placed emphasis on the new use of verbs in timelines, which will allow people to sort their friends activities in different ways. For instance, with a status update reading “Casey Johnston is watching Veronica Mars for the millionth time,” users will be able to click both “watching” to see what else friends are viewing at the moment, or "Veronica Mars" to see a list of other friends who like Veronica Mars.
These updates will feed into the second new feature, Facebook Open Graph, which collects and ranks the the activities or items that friends are interacting with. Apps that integrate with Facebook will be sorted in Open Graph based on popularity with a user and his or her friends, including Spotify, Hulu, Netflix, Foodspotting, Vevo, and Nike+, among many others. Open Graph is intended to help with app discoverability, showing users what their friends are doing without flooding their feeds every time a friend kills a mobster or plants a new crop of corn.
When Timeline was introduced, Chris Cox, director of product at Facebook, noted that “there is nothing we love to summarize more than time itself,” stating that with the new features it would be possible for users to create months or years in review.
Of course, Facebook’s entire motivation isn’t just for friends to become more intimate with each others’ past and present. Daniel Ek, Spotify CEO, spoke briefly at the conference, and noted that “because our [Spotify’s] playlists are social, they [users] are more engaged. And because they are engaged, they are more than twice as likely to pay for music.” For Spotify, which boasted 2 million paying members worldwide as of Wednesday, the exposure to the better part of a billion Facebook members could mean big bucks.
The new completionist Facebook is a significant departure from what Facebook’s most avid competitors, Google+ and Twitter, currently offer on their sites. If Facebook can get users to buy into putting their whole life histories on the site, the amount of content there will explode, and create an investment and representation of self users won’t be likely to abandon. And with more content comes more opportunities to target ads.
The beta for Facebook’s timelines begins today, with availability being rolled out gradually. Neither Zuckerberg nor any of the speakers mentioned a timeline for the new version, but we expect it will be sooner rather than later.
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