Mark Zuckerberg may look and sound like the irritatingly self-satisfied rich kid you always hated in high school, but I’ll say this for him: He’s got cojones the size of tractor tires.
Facebook just made a play to take over the entire Web -- or at least, the parts that get the most traffic -- via its new "social graph,” officially unveiled at this week’s F8 confab.
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Some of the changes are cosmetic. Instead of declaring yourself “a fan” of, say, Red Bull or the Talking Heads or "I don’t care how comfortable Crocs are, you look like a dumbass" on Facebook, you now simply Like them. The bigger change is that Facebook has now dismantled its garden walls and extended Like across the Web. Now you can express your Likes across a wide range of sites and have that information auto-magically transferred to your Facebook page, as well as the pages of everyone on your friends list.
You can also see who else on your Facebook list shares your deep abiding affection for the Bay City Rollers or Hello Kitty boxer shorts -- on the page itself.
In addition, Facebook has decided to generously share your personal information with “select” business partners. Right now that includes just three: Pandora, Yelp, and Microsoft’s Docs.com. This is what Facebook is calling "instant personalization" -- grabbing information from your public Facebook page and using it to "improve" your experience on other sites.
If you’re not expecting this, it can be a bit jarring, as IT World’s Thank You for Not Sharing blogger Dan Tynan explains:
I couldn't sleep this morning, so I schlepped down to the nearest Wifi cafe… plugged in my noise-canceling ear phones and dialed up Pandora. Before I'd even logged in, the site launched into one of my favorite Tom Waits songs, "Jockey Full of Bourbon," followed by songs from John Lee Hooker and Tift Merritt. Bang bang bang, three of my top artists, just like that.