Facebook in the News

Facebook has been making a lot of news lately, not that I would normally care, but since creating a fan page for us, I’ve paid more attention to them, especially given the relatively high amount of referral traffic driven here.

We win at internet.

Here’s a quick roundup:

1. Facebook acquires Beluga

Why it matters: I’ve been messing with Beluga for a while. Beluga offers a mobile-centric way to collaborate in a dead-simple way by creating essentially group chats called pods. The focus of mobile use is key because it drives an easy interface and design.

Group chat is thought to be the hot space heading into SXSW Interactive next week, and Beluga was positioned to make a splash. Facebook probably saved some cash snapping them up prior to Geek Spring Break.

Expect to see Facebook’s chat offering get a feature update to support group chatting. I truly hope they retain the targeted simplicity that Beluga brought to mobile. As you know by know, Facebook is said to be actively developing mobile web apps.

2. Facebook changing shares to likes (h/t Geekosystem)

There’s been no official word, but many people are reporting that Facebook likes are now showing up as full news feed items. Apparently, the share widget has been removed from Facebook’s documentation too, leading to the rumor that likes are replacing shares.

Why it matters: Liking something is almost frictionless. Visit a site (like this one) that has the button enabled and click it. If you’re logged into Facebook, all you see is a button change. Sharing to Facebook required more effort and was used by many fewer people.

Liking also influences the ranking of a News Feed more than sharing does, making it appear higher in the Top News view.

As I mentioned recently, liking something provides a ton of useful information to the content owner.

3. Facebook introduces new commenting (h/t TechCrunch)

Why it matters: By synchronizing comments made in the News Feed and directly on a blog with the Facebook Comments Box, Facebook further ties content providers to their audiences on Facebook and blurs the distinction.

This is similar to what services like Disqus do with Twitter commentary, but Facebook provides a much more structured and longer format. Plus, discovery is much easier and deeper on Facebook due to real identities and filtering of the News Feed.

So what?

Facebook continues their inexorable assault on the interwebs as we know it. Why does it work? They have too many users to ignore. This is both good and bad. I’m interested to see how the mobile play evolves, especially if they do produce a mobile web app. I’m also hopeful that Beluga’s functionality will survive.

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