Facebook Actions: Revolutionary or Invasive?

Speculators say that today, Facebook will announce their new feature called “Facebook Actions”. With Actions, Facebook plans to get users to share more of what they do outside of Facebook on their profiles. It’s not really a new feature, it’s more like an extension of the Frictionless sharing feature. You’ve no doubt seen the “(name of friend) is reading (title of article)” updates on your newsfeed. Or perhaps the “is listening to” or “is watching” updates. These are all parts of Facebook’s Open Graph Applications, designed to share user activities on his or her profile automatically. The user needs only to give permission once and from then on, all of his or her activities will be broadcast on the site – all the articles he reads, the music he listens to, and the videos he watches. With Actions, these updates will no longer be limited to these three things, but will be expanded to include anything.

What we cook, what we eat, what we play with, what we buy, where you run, and many others, will be broadcasted on our timelines if we give our permission – which, it’s important to stress, we only need to give once. After the apps get their much coveted ‘permission’, our walls are pretty much fair game for them. So if you, for example, use a cooking application and consent to its use of frictionless sharing on your profile, then every time you cook something and mark it on the app, an update for which will show up on your own timeline – and it will continue to do so until you decide to retract your permission.

Several companies are already waiting avidly for this update, and if rumors are true, then today will mark the day of its official launch. More importantly, though, speculators believe that with the new update, Facebook will also start pushing for the greater implementation of Timeline. After all, these Open Graph Apps are practically the partner of Timeline. Facebook hopes that we’ll chronicle the story of our lives through Timeline and also up the level of content by filling in the gaps with records of our everyday activities. Of course, security-wise, this is hardly recommended. A running app that shares your routes on your timeline might clue in some thieves about your activities and provide information which they could use for their plans, same with a travel app.

Timeline is currently operating on an opt-in basis, but Facebook as made it clear that all users will receive it eventually. Meanwhile, for those of you who have no desire to ‘overshare’ on Facebook, keep your eyes peeled for any app that requests permission. Read before you click that ‘ok’ button.

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