Facebook announces new Internet-wide social features

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Facebook kicked off the f8 conference with a keynote that laid out its plans to integrate the web into Facebook and Facebook into the web. The social networking powerhouse began by re-affirming its commitment to the unified login provided by Facebook Connect, and revoked the previous limitation that required Facebook Connect-enabled websites to delete cached user data within 24 hours. From today forward, Facebook Connect websites can store user data to create a seamless browsing experience that is enhanced by a single, persistent login. Facebook then presented its expanded Open Graph concept, introduced a series of new social plugins for websites, and unveiled the  new Graph API, an improved and expanded core framework for developers. Read about Facebook’s plan to literally own the web after the jump.

Here are some the tools and concepts presented today that will enable Facebook to expand beyond the bounds of its domain and and reach out to the rest of the web.

Open Graph
Introduced at the first f8, Open Graph is a paradigm shift that puts you and your Facebook profile at the center of the Internet. Open Graph allows you to connect all the various and disjoined aspects of your online presence into one central location that can be shared with your friends, fans, and the public. Mark Zuckerberg provided an example of someone visiting a CNN page that automatically reveals your friends’ likes/dislikes and recommendations of that page. The social information will come from Facebook , but the content will be displayed on and integrated within CNN’s website. Pandora was also used as an example of the epxanded Open  Graph. Facebook-loving Pandora users can automatically share their music stream and likes/dislikes seamlessly back and forth with Facebook and its 400 million users.

Graph API
Graph API is a new core API that will be used to forge and mine these “Open Graph” connections between friends, pages, favorites, games, websites, applications, etc. The API now includes a search function so developers can finally mine the 25 billion things that the 400 million FB users are sharing each month. The Graph API also includes a real time API that sends out a call back when changes are made to a Facebook wall, profile, page, and more. Developers will receive automatic updates instead of having to constantly poll Facebook for changes. Facebook is also improving authentication by adopting OAuth 2.0, an industry standard for identification.

Social Plugins/ Website integration with Facebook
Facebook also introduced a series of plugins that form a bridge between Facebook and the Internet at large. The Facebook “like” button will be embedded into websites, will interact with the social plugins, and will let users share information without logging in. The plugins can be added to a website without any coding and will help fill out each user’s “Open Graph” with content and connections. The plugins include an Activity Stream plugin, a Recommendations plugin, and a social bar. Most pervasive of the bunch is the social bar which appears at the bottom of your web browser and connects your Facebook profile with your online browsing habits. The social bar also integrates the social features of Facebook by allowing you view your news stream, chat with other Facebook friends, etc. Pretty cool…

Not content with plugins only, Facebook also introduced the Open Graph protocol which is a new meta tag that can be embedded into web page and read by Facebook when a Facebook user visits a supporting web page. IMDB will be incorporating this new feature on every page and will provide Facebook with additional information about the page that you are recommending. As an example, a page on IMDB’s website could include Meta tag information identifying the movie that your are browsing and “liking”. This movie information would then be sent to your Facebook profile, stored under the category of “My favorite movies” and shared with all of your friends. Facebook has 30 partners already on board and many of these social features will launch today.

Microsoft, Yelp, and Pandora Partnerships
Last but not least, Facebook announced a partnership with Microsoft, Yelp, and Pandora. Microsoft is expected to announce and launch its new Docs.com website today. Docs.com is an online version of its Microsoft Office platform and a direct competitor to Google Docs. Facebook will be tightly integrated into this online Office framework and each and every Facebook user will be able to create and share online documents from within Facebook. Yelp and Pandora also jumped on board the social bandwagon and will tightly integrate their services with Facebook.

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