What is Facebook’s Open Graph?

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.