Karthik Subramanian

Developers question the ‘openness' of the initiative

50,000 websites have plugged in within the first week

It has raised some concerns about privacy and security

Chennai: Talk about instant results. Facebook's social plugins under its new core API Open Graph, introduced at its F8 Developer's Conference in San Francisco last month, have truly struck gold. More than 50,000 websites have plugged in the new widgets within the first week and that number is growing fast. The entire web is reeling under a ‘Facebook-like' icon infestation.

With it, Facebook CEO and the world's youngest billionaire Mark Zuckerberg hopes to redefine web experience, with an eye on keeping Facebook the default login for web users in general.

Developers around the world, even while praising the sheer simplicity and ease of use of the new social tools – websites requiring to add the ‘facebook-like' widget will need to copy-paste and add just a single code to their website's HTML header – they also caution that there is no need for brouhaha. There might not be much ‘open' about Open Graph over the simple fact that it still requires users to have a Facebook account.

Essentially with the introduction of new social streams – ‘Like it,' ‘Friends Feed' and ‘Recommendations' – that can be hooked into websites, Facebook is trying to re-define the way social networks work. Until now, social networks worked as third party services that users and web administrators logged into and accessed for information. What ‘Open Graph' envisages is an all-pervasive social network, constantly feeding and integrating meta data.

According to Mr. Zuckerberg, the web is defaulting to social and hence the changes.

By integrating the new streams on their websites, web administrators are in effect allowing small social networks.

But like all Facebook initiatives so far, this move too has raised some concerns about privacy and security. Chris Messina, a San Francisco-based software professional who runs Citizen Agency, a consulting firm focused on effective and appropriate use of social media combined with open source values and practices, writes on his blog factoryjoe.com: “…those ‘like' buttons only work for Facebook. I can't just be signed in to any social web provider…it's got to be Facebook. And on top of that, whenever I ‘like' something, I'm sending a signal back to Facebook that gets recorded on both my profile, and my activity stream.”

Another controversy is about a policy change to allow the developers to store user data for more than 24 hours so that the new tools become popular. Whilst this has raised eyebrows within the Facebook community, the social network has clarified that only such data that users share under ‘public settings' would be open for developers to store.