Open Graph is Facebook’s Beacon Pivot

I recently discovered Adam Erlebacher’s blog. It’s a great read, talking insightfully about several different topics, from business to technology to the way design helped Roald Amundsen beat Robert Scott to the South Pole. I found an article on Facebook’s OpenGraph efforts of particular interest; I’d not made the connection between Beacon and OpenGraph, but once you see it, it becomes obvious.

The implications of Open Graph are extremely important. Through user-generated “Likes”, Facebook will become the central repository for your and your friends’ preferences and that information will be used by FB and its partners to make recommendations (sell things) to you on- and, more importantly, off-Facebook. Like Beacon, Open Graph attempts to leverage users’ off-Facebook actions so that FB can be there when the user has the “intent” to buy that concert ticket. But Facebook learned its lessons from Beacon’s failed attempt to (some might say) surreptitiously track and broadcast users’ actions. Unlike Beacon, Open Graph will succeed by giving “control” to users. Namely, the Like button will get users to voluntarily share their Likes with friends. Facebook will then use this information off-Facebook at the concert site when the user’s intent is to purchase tickets. There is no lack of cunning in this Beacon pivot.