As we noted just earlier today, Facebook have released an API for the newsfeed making it possible to essentially recreate your Facebook news stream elsewhere. Personally (as a geek), I’m delighted. Deep down however, for the average user, I’m concerned.
See, the news is likely to generate a mass of new interest from geeks and web enthusiasts, many of whom had hoped access to their personal streams would be available outside of Facebook. This of course is wonderful for Facebook and wonderful for other tech heads like me too.
For non-geeks however, the news (once they find out about it) is likely to confuse and quite possibly scare. Most non-geeks simply won’t be aware of the fact that their updates, which include media, are actually going to available to users outside of Facebook.com. Most non-geeks aren’t even aware of the fact that they can customize their Facebook privacy levels to a tilt, and even if they are, they’re unlikely to know how to do so.
There’s an enormous difference between Facebook and Twitter which Facebook appears yet to realise, or has simply forgotten. Facebook stores an incredible amount of information from peoples daily lives, including media, personal and contact information. Whenever any of this changes, it appears on your friends news streams BY DEFAULT. Pardon the capitals, but the point needs stressing, Facebook members need to therefore realise that virtually everything they put on Facebook is now going to be made available outside of Facebook, destroying this private network of sharing they have all come to expect and appreciate.
Irrespective of this fundamental difference, this new step sees Facebook continue to attempt to replicate Twitter functionality, making it very easy for private content to be viewed outside of Facebook.com itself.
I am aware, that Facebook limits the amount of time developers can cache stream data for 24 hours, I don’t however believe that limits the potential for developers and users alike to abuse.
“If there was ever a question that FB was abandoning the carefully guarded, gated-community model, I guess there isn’t anymore.” Summed up perfectly via a friend on Friendfeed.
I predict a backlash.