Is there an upside to Facebook's social plug-ins?

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I attended F8 [the poor relative version in London] last week to hear about Facebook's introduction of "social plug-ins" and came away a little despondent. Those who know me will agree this is not an uncommon disposition. The thing that stood out the most for me was the introduction of the "like" feature and social network functionality into third-party websites.

"Open Graph was the most transformative thing Facebook had done for the web."— Mark Zuckerberg .
Source By Chris Nuttall in San Francisco, Published: April 22

True, but is it the most intrusive too?

I can see how the introduction of such plug-ins to websites makes web page development more attractive to brands looking to benefit from social networks. CNN, IMDB and Levis are some of the early adopters.

Once a user likes something, it instantly gets added to the appropriate section of their Facebook profile and allows them to share information with their friends.

"With more than 400m Facebook members, plug-ins offer to drive substantial traffic to sites that install them and boost their advertising revenues."—Mark Zuckerberg.
Source By Chris Nuttall in San Francisco, Published: April 22

What I find troubling is someone not only knowing who my friends are and everything I'm up to, but now also knowing what I like. I've gone to great lengths to keep as low a profile on the social network scene as possible within reason (and as much as is acceptable considering the industry I work in).

I agree it's an interesting breakthrough, however, I have absolutely no desire to view all my friends' activity on a website and I doubt they would be interested in my daily searches for anything on Morrissey or The Smiths either.

The original "like" feature simply allowed users to show approval of their friends' photos and wall posts, but was in no way intrusive. Share, Embed and Follow functionality on other websites, albeit slightly overwhelming with a hundred different ways to interact, is a single interaction and useful too.

Surely brands should be respecting users not invading their personal space? It's just a way of getting Facebook users to share more private information with strangers, potentially allowing brands to track activity across the web for advertising purposes.

With the best intentions, I fail to see how it will be used in a positive way.

I could just ignore it, not use it and maybe one day it'll go away. On the other hand, if there were a "like" feature on Morrissey's website will I suddenly discover every piece of information ever known about him? Maybe not, there are limits to everything...

Rachel Bishop is Head of Production at Lean Mean Fighting Machine in the U.K.
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