Like any TechCrunch-reading web nerd, my first reaction to the “Open Graph” Facebook changes was whiny and furious. How dare they slap my name on every site that’s desperate to tap into their user base? If I wanted my name on those sites, I would have signed up for them! And if I wanted to share my info from those sites with my Facebook friends, I would have individually signed in to each and every one of them, giving that site explicit permission to share with the same people I was sharing with on places like Facebook and then dealt with dozens of different settings arrangements!
Maybe you can see my thought path on this issue changing there. If not, it’s come to this: not only is the change not a big deal, but it’s what we’ve been looking for from the web for years.
Yes, I was surprised when I went to the Washington Post front page and was greeted with a list of the articles my Facebook friends had shared. Yeah, it was a little discomforting to go to Yelp and see my “friends activity”, some of which was from high school friends that I hadn’t seen in decades. But then it cleared up: these are all people that I’ve already approved as my friends. Why should I have to do it yet again? My name isn’t showing up to strangers; it’s showing up to my friends, who I had already consented to share with. At the least, it’s made the web even more convenient, but more than that, it’s expanded the sharing web so hugely that it’s difficult to even comprehend right now.
This is exactly the kind of thing that we’ve wanted from the web; what we’ve wanted companies to do for years: make a single identity and a single group of friends that are managed in one place and then spread throughout sites with multiple purposes. It’s what Open ID wanted to do. Yes, it’s a lot of power for one company, but this isn’t the government we’re talking about. At the absolute worst, it’s like a cult where you actually can leave at any time, with the only downside being some hassle from your friends.
I would not fault anyone for deleting their Facebook account and being done with the whole thing. The concern is understandable. But before you back away entirely, and before you get outraged about these Facebook changes, think of this: your name is likely all over search results on the web, and you have no control over it. Your visits are being tracked anonymously by dozens of web statistics software. Your financial information is a single password (and likely a crappy password) away from anyone who wants it. Like a germaphobe who obsesses over toilet seat covers, you have a LOT greater things to worry about than this.
If you’re up for arguing this, I’m all for it in the comments. And by the way, the comments are powered by Disqus, a service that’s been around for years, where a single login with have you logged into to thousands of sites around the web.