Facebook Brings Explicit Sharing To Open Graph

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Ever since its introduction, Open Graph has slowly changed the Internet in Facebook's favor. The social network is now the default and preferred method for signing in on various apps and Web sites. It's easy for the consumer and the app gets the added advertising from having their users post stories from said app to their Facebook Timeline. Now Facebook is taking it to the next level.

Facebook calls it explicit sharing and it's a pretty big change for Open Graph. It's described as a "new, optional explicitly shared parameter to signal which actions users want to prominently share on Facebook." In other words, certain apps can now post stories on a user's Timeline that look just like an entry that was entered from Facebook proper.

The social network says that explicitly shared actions are "eligible to appear as stand-alone stories in news feed and they'll appear consistently on the left side of a person's timeline." Explicit sharing is optional so users can pick and choose which apps they want displayed prominently on their Timelines. Everything else will continue to appear in tickers and news feed aggregates.

With all that being said, only certain stories can use the explicitly shared action functionality. These include:

  • Sharing a user generated photo
  • Sharing your location (checkins, routes, etc.)
  • User generated messages
  • Facebook seems to realize that allowing all apps access to explicit sharing would just be a mess. There are people who would love nothing more than to display their likes and games prominently on their Timeline. To counter that, these stories are not allowed to use explicitly shared actions:

  • Actions that occur naturally in an app, such as listening, reading, watching, and using
  • Lightweight social buttons, such as liking, loving, favoriting, and saving
  • Low-signal activities that happen bulk, such as following, friending, and passing
  • Functional parts of game play, such as playing, earning, building, and gifting
  • To implement explicit sharing, you only need to add one little line of code to your app. Facebook warns that users may want to explicitly share some content from an app while keeping the other content off their main Timeline feed. In that case, they suggest that developers only "include this new parameter in the instances where a user clearly intends to share their activity on Facebook.

    To make sure that app aren't abusing explicit sharing, Facebook will begin reviewing every action that enables the feature. That means that developers will have to resubmit every action from their apps if they want to use it.

    It almost seems like Facebook has taken a page out of Google+ History with this latest change to Open Graph. If you recall from Google I/O, the Google+ History API was a method for people to share what really mattered to them on Google+. It was similar to Open Graph, but it gave greater control of what content was shared to the user. Explicit sharing seems to be that greater control that Open Graph on Facebook was lacking.

    To learn more about implementing Explicit Sharing into Open Graph, check out Facebook's documentation.

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