So Facebook did not announce an IPO yesterday, as I kind of thought it might. Instead, the social networking kings announced support for 60 new Timeline apps that allow you to share with the world what you’re doing at any given moment.
New timeline apps are now available from Foodspotting, Foodily, Ticketmaster, Pinterest, Rotten Tomatoes, Pose, Kobo, Gogobot, TripAdvisor, and others. You can now enhance your timeline with apps that help you tell your story, whether you love to cook, eat, travel, run, or review movies….
If you love to cook, you can add the Foodily app to your timeline and share your latest dishes. If your friends have added the Foodily app, you can discover new recipes with each other, as you'll see their updates in the ticker and their timeline, and possibly News Feed.
If you're a traveler, you can add the Gogobot and TripAdvisor apps to bring a virtual passport to your timeline, and show your friends where you've been and share tips about your favorite spots from around the world.
Does that sound vaguely familiar? If not it should, because this is precisely what Facebook tried to do in November 2007 with the release of Facebook Beacon:
Fandango, the nation’s leading moviegoer destination, is using Beacon so when Facebook users purchase a movie ticket on Fandango.com, they can share their movie plans with their friends on Facebook. Consumers gain a new way to tell their friends about their movie tastes, while Fandango is able to gain greater social distribution on Facebook….
As a way to let travelers tell their Facebook friends about upcoming travel plans, Travelocity is implementing Facebook Beacon on its website. When Facebook users book travel on Travelocity, they can choose to share that information with their friends on Facebook.
Substitute Flixster or Rotten Tomatoes for Fandango and TripAdvisor or Gogobot for Travelocity, and you’ve got essentially Beacon 2.0.
Beacon had other problems that these apps hopefully do not have. For one thing, these apps offer more control over what gets posted to your Timeline.
On Flixster, for example, you can tick a box to keep the site from sharing your movie reviews with your Facebook peeps. If you screw up and post something you don’t really want to share, you can go back to your Activity Log on your Timeline and remove it with a couple of clicks.
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Beacon had other, more serious problems. For example: Security researchers discovered that it continued to pull information from third party Web sites even after users had opted out and logged out of Facebook. After a storm of criticism, Facebook killed Beacon and paid out nearly $10 million to settle class action lawsuits over the service.
At least, we thought it killed Beacon. Turns out it was just resting. And now, in our new share-everything-with-everyone age, it doesn’t seem quite so evil any more.
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