Facebook May Let You Share What You Do Off-Site

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Speculation is swirling that Facebook is getting ready to announce a way to combine information on what users do on, and off, the social network.

News reports began surfacing that Facebook planned a press conference for Wednesday evening in San Francisco. Last fall, the social network announced that it was working on what it called Open Graph applications, designed to enable people to share on Facebook what they are doing elsewhere online.

The applications began rolling out over the past few months to Web sites like the Washington Post and Hulu, according to a report Tuesday from All Things D.

The applications are expected to enable users to share what they're doing on other Web sites - listening to music, reading an article or watching a video - with their Facebook friends. They also may be able to invite their friends to join them, according to All Things D.

Facebook declined to comment on what Wednesday's news will entail.

"I think this falls under the 'this is the kind of thing you will like if you like this kind of thing,' " said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research. "I believe, however, that part of Facebook's user base will shut off all permissions in response to this reduction in privacy. Of course, all they're doing is providing the enabling technology, but I don't think it's a net win for them."

He added that he doesn't think most of Facebook's users will want to share this much information.

"It assumes that you want all your friends, close and distant, to know what you read, where you shop, what songs you listen to," said Gottheil. "I think Facebook has expanded far beyond its 20-something core, and most older people will be put off ... There has been resistance to Facebook's other incursions on privacy. To me, it is one of the recurring reminders that with respect to my desire for control over what I share with others, Facebook either does not get it or does not care."

Last November, Facebook took a very public privacy hit when it settled charges by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission the social network deceived users and shared information that it had promised would be kept private.

Industry watchers are waiting to see how Facebook handles the privacy issues that will surround the Open Graph applications.

This story, "Facebook May Let You Share What You Do Off-Site" was originally published by Computerworld.

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