AdWeek recently discovered Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s newest project: Open Graph, a social operating system for the Internet. According to Zuckerberg, the new system is “the most transformative thing we’ve ever done for the Web.”
The new creation aims to make Facebook the Web’s social connective tissue. Although there are many skeptics of the concept, many feel this one might just be a success. Why? Facebook’s growth rate. The Open Graph introduction comes at a time when Facebook now supports 450 million users worldwide.
Facebook’s plan? To take the vast amounts of social data that have been gathered from users and spread it around the Web through a set of social plug-ins, such as making its “Like” buttons a universal web feature, and letting sites customize user experiences. That information then gets fed back to Facebook and broadcasted to the user’s networks. By compiling a list of what interests and motivates people, Facebook could overpower Google by building the most powerful internet database.
Facebook’s move showcases our society’s technological shift from stand-alone social networks to full integration of social features. As a technological society, we are moving to a generation where our social, educational, and professional arenas are slowly merging. As Zuckerberg said, “We’re building a Web where the default is social.”
Facebook rivals are also moving in this direction. Twitter’s @Anywhere platform attempts to embed Twitter’s conversation features on any site. Other social network sites are quickly following. But could this be a dangerous move? According to AdWeek, “It results in Facebook becoming … all-knowing,” said Ian Schafer, CEO of Deep Focus, who compares Facebook to Skynet, the computer network in The Terminator. But the benefits of hooking into its viral loop are too many for publishers and brands to ignore, he said.”
The primary problem with Open Graph? Privacy invasion. Because Open Graph broadcasts personal preferences, and allows Facebook and others to store them, many are concerned about their privacy, identity, and other important personal information that are not necessarily desired to be spread across the web. Only time will tell, but Open Graph has a promising future in today’s society, where increasing numbers of people want to be “in the loop” at all times.