# Friday, 14 May 2010

Facebook is getting a lot of flack about its privacy policy changes. At issue is a new feature where Facebook will automatically share your information with 3rd parties unless you specifically opt-out-which is confusing to do.

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This feature allows a site like Yelp to know a lot about you before you ever visited it. Yelp would automatically register you (saving you the time to do it yourself!) and allow you to log in with your Facebook credentials. Yelp would then customize the site based on your information and your contacts’ preferences. I think that is cool, I would rather know what my friends think of a new restaurant than total strangers.

We already allow Google to read our email, far more private than our Facebook profile data, and target us ads. Facebook wants to take that one step further and make your social graph portable. In my opinion,  the opportunity to have your social graph and preferences follow you from site to site is pretty powerful. A portable social graph is the next wave of social networking. Instead of interacting with your friends just in Facebook, you can now rely on them on the entire Internet! This has endless opportunities.

One obvious example is travel. I just booked a hotel room. I read through lots of reviews on travel sites and looked at photos, etc. Wouldn’t it be cool to know if any of my friends stayed at hotels in that city automatically when I go to the site. Wouldn’t it be even cooler if Facebook figured out what I was traveling for based on my social graph and links to sites like Expedia and targeted me offers based on my preferences.  I just booked my tickets to TechEd USA in New Orleans, it would be great if the Expedia via my portable social graph from Facebook told me “25 of your friends are staying in New Orleans until Saturday, want to extend your stay one night at 10% off?” I already get 100 annoying status updates a day saying “Landed in SFO!” Imagine if those annoying messages could be put to good use by adding some intelligence and aggregation.

This can be extended to all sites on the internet, not just travel and leisure. What about just regular browsing? It would great to know what your social graph is reading. Isn’t this what twitter is trying to be? After the annoying “Watching my kid play soccer” updates, a ton of updates are links to articles. Facebook can bring more order to that with aggregation, history  and “like”. Digg is trying to do this, but not with your social graph. Not only can an open social graph push this all out to you, it would work on demand too.  Think about just reading an article on a blog, or another site like BBC.com. It would be great if I was alerted that 2 of my friends commented on this story in the tons of comments below. A portable social graph will do that.

It will be a brave new Internet. A portable social graph is the future.  Facebook is just taking us there kicking and screaming.

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