There are a ton of people freaking out about Facebook‘s new “Like” button. They seem to think that it might spell the end of privacy. . . this is just another bit of Chicken Little screaming, “the sky is falling!”
The like button is a great idea. It’s a low commitment, low interaction, small time consuming widget that allows people who are users of facebook and readers of a website or blog to share things that they like with the people they are connected to on Facebook.
The “like” button will be similar to products from Twitter and Digg that let users share content with their social networks. It new function will allow users to signal the content they like on internet sites. -Financial Times
Some people think that the change will allow Facebook to track users across the web easier:
While “Share” buttons allow users to post links that their friends see on their Facebook pages, those links are fleeting. The Like button will allow Facebook to keep a record of what a user linked to, providing the company with ever more data about people’s preferences. Facebook, in turn, plans to share that data with Web publishers, so that a magazine Web site, for instance, may be able to show users all the articles that their friends like. A site like Yelp may show reviews from a user’s friends, rather than those from strangers. -The New York Times
Of course people are concerned about this, but really, every one of is is tracked across the web and real life in a myriad of ways. Contantantly. That’s not going to end and you and I might as well have all of that tracking working for us, tailoring our world and our experiences to suit us, rather than just going to waste.
What concerns me more than any of the other things is that facebook is becoming a single sign on solution:
Facebook is also planning to offer a toolbar that Web sites will be encouraged to place at the bottom of their pages. The toolbar will build on Facebook Connect, a service the company introduced in 2008, allowing people to use their Facebook identities to log into various sites. The toolbar will be easier for publishers to use and may encourage more users to log in. Facebook engineers were still working on the feature, and it was not clear if it would be introduced at the conference. -The New York Times
I’d rather see Facebook adopt openid than have one website in charge of all of my logins.
Really though it all boils down so some neat new widgets that webmasters are free to use or not use and that users are free to interact with or leave completely alone. Just some new toys, not the death of privacy.