After testing the new feature back in January, Facebook has officially launched their new action-based statuses that let you share how you're feeling or what you're doing with a fun little emoticon.
And and automatic link to the relevant Facebook page, which is the key aspect of this new feature.
Starting today, Facebook is rolling out the new sharing option to U.S. users. The rollout will take a couple of weeks, according to the company. What you'll find is the inline ability to share action verb statuses - "feeling," "watching," or "drinking," for instance.
"Josh Wolford is watching Jurassic Park," maybe. Alongside the statues will we a little icon specific to the action (for watching, a little movie cut scene board. The object of the action will also get its own link in your status - leading users to its Facebook page.
It will also be added to the appropriate box in your Timeline (Movies box, in this case).
As we touched on back in January when Facebook first began to test these action-based statuses, this is clearly not just Facebook bringing back emoticons for the hell of it.
At the time, Facebook said:
"It’s just a new way for people to visually represent what they’re doing and how they’re feeling through their Facebook posts. It will only be available to small set of people. This isn’t integrated into Graph Search. It’s just a small test to see if people are interested in sharing their actions in a more visual way."
But you have to imagine that this sort of data could be integrated into Graph Search. Using an action status already automatically adds the direct object of the actions (whether it be a movie, food, book, musical artist, etc) to your Timeline.
"These updates, and the stories added to your timeline, respect the privacy settings you choose for your post," says Facebook. So as long as you have your privacy settings tooled correctly, these action statuses shouldn't open you up any more than a regular status update or "liking" the product in question would.
But this structured status update makes it much easier for Facebook to collect data on your activities, the same way they do with Open Graph actions. And more information means that Facebook knows which pages to suggest to you, and which ads to target you in both the news feed and otherwise. It's also another format for Facebook to use in Sponsored Stories. If you post one of these action statuses that says you were drinking coffee at Starbucks, you know that at some point, your friends will be shown that status as a sponsored post in their news feed. It's simply Facebook taking the page-tagging out of your hands, and doing it for you.
Is it a data grab? Sure. But as Facebook says, it's also a fun new way to more visually express your activities. Use it or not, it's up to you. Which is the great thing about all social media, really. You give up just as much data as you want to give up.