Key to this vision is Facebook's Open Graph API (application programming interface) and Open Graph Protocol, a system to mark up objects in a uniform way so that Facebook and participating sites can understand them the same way.
Facebook also released plug-ins for developers to easily incorporate on their Web pages Facebook functionality, such as the already widespread "Like" button, which lets end-users express interest in content and inform participating Web sites.
Facebook's site has become a highly complex technology operation serving a massive number of users, which increases the likelihood of breakdowns, so the company must be increasingly vigilant about preventing and fixing bugs and malfunctions, said Augie Ray, a Forrester Research analyst.
As Facebook grows in size and importance, with hundreds of millions of people using it to store and share very personal information, the stakes are sky-high whenever a bug causes a security or privacy breach, he said in a phone interview.
Not only can these incidents erode the trust end-users and advertising partners have on Facebook, but they also put the company at risk of civil lawsuits and government penalties, Ray said.
"Today's incident doesn't seem like an overwhelmingly substantial security breach, but it is serious enough to raise questions on the minds of end-users as to how much they can trust Facebook with their information," he said.
"Facebook must make sure incidents like this one don't accumulate to the extent they become a bigger legal or trust issue," Ray added.
Once Facebook concludes its internal investigation of what went wrong and why, it would be in its best interest to provide more information about its findings, because transparency will help repair confidence among users and partners, he said.
Altimeter Group analyst Jeremiah Owyang predicts incidents like this will happen again. "Don't expect this to be the last privacy mishap. As more users flock to Facebook, it'll continue to innovate and change features in order to grow," he said via e-mail. "Most consumers don't give privacy a hard think until it impacts their lives directly."