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As an individual or a business-owner, you’re going to want to have a good understanding of the complex workings of Facebook’s central platform, the Open Graph. In one sense, the Open Graph is an expanded, enhanced social graph. It’s coded into every action we take on Facebook and on the multitude of sites that have Facebook features integrated. Social graphs (or sociograms) have been around before the Open Graph. Essentially, they methodically organize the online relationships between individuals, objects, images, videos, preferences, etc., and the actions people take on each object. Every instance of “contact” you make between objects or people is plotted in Facebook’s Open Graph—every “like,” every view, every photo uploaded, every wall post—so that you can easily reference information between individuals, and you can measure reach and influence, and trends in unique, actionable ways.
That’s one way of looking at it. A somewhat narrower view is that Open Graph is an application developed by Facebook that helps other people refine applications of their own, using more specific “actions” to attach to “objects.” In the past, this capability was contained within Facebook. Now, however, Open Graph has the capabilities to trace actions from all over the internet and track them through your Facebook profile. Many people are familiar with the “Like” button, but “to like” something is rather vague, but if you think about all of the objects you like put together, you end up with a detailed profile of yourself, showing all of your interests and social connections. The open graph goes much further than the like button but that may well be the most easily understood action one can take using the Open Graph.
Open Graph is seen as a beneficial, powerful, and interesting data source for some and a scary, intrusive, or unavoidable data trap to others. The question and balance needs to be struck between easy access to social networking / preference based web browsing, our privacy rights and responsible marketing.
New Facebook Privacy App
With developers using Facebook’s Open Graph on websites and apps all over the web, users activities are becoming more social because the graph is automatically publishing a lot of activities on other websites and apps (like reading an article on huffpo) into the Facebook News feed or Timeline. Until recently, if you weren’t happy with what got shared on Facebook, you’d have to go to Facebook itself to fix it. Some new privacy functionality can change all of that, according to a new post on Facebook’s developer blog.
After reviewing this nifty little app called the Shared Activity Plugin we were left wondering what it means to allow an app or website to, “take data with you”. The new functionality provides the user ability to adjust the audience controls and what data can be taken from you. The audience controls allow you to set who your updates are shown to or if they are displayed on your timeline. The real benefit for users concerned about who can see some of their activities is, you do have the ability to delete these status updates and wall posts created by actions on applications of other websites and can now prevent them. After all everyone should have a private reading list…
We also concluded through some very scientific research that “almost nobody” would ever dig that deep into their Facebook account settings to find that this even exists. After reviewing the list on our accounts we realized that we were still allowing all kinds of apps to “take data with you”, some these apps we stopped supporting long ago.
Apparently developers can add a plugin to their website that will allow it’s users to adjust their Open Graph privacy settings directly from the site they are on. Lets see if the control aspect proliferates anywhere close to the pace as other open graph integrations (the like button).
, Ian Lowell