Like Buttons Falling From the Sky

CNN announces what you should know about Facebook’s changes:

Buttons with the word “like” and a thumbs-up icon on them are going to start popping up all over the Internet [web]. By clicking one, you indicate that you find the content interesting, relevant or helpful. Basically, you would recommend it to a friend.

Before Wednesday, “like” buttons only were on Facebook. Now, they’ll be all over the place… When you click one, you post the item — whether it’s a blog post, photo or celebrity web page — to your Facebook news feed.

So how will this differ from what we have currently? For instance, how will it differ from things like the Retweet button and the social toolbar (featuring buttons for Tumblr, Facebook, Digg, and so on) found at the bottom of this post and on millions of other websites?

It will differ in three ways:

  1. The “like” button differs from a Facebook button in that it isn’t a gateway to the Facebook website; it’s a piece of the Facebook website stuck on other sites. Conceptually, this makes those sites “pages on Facebook,” and makes Facebook a dominant platform.
  2. Unlike with ordinary social buttons, you won’t have to enter a user name and password. If you’ve used Facebook recently, you’ll be able to click the “like” button on Joe’s website and have it show up in your Facebook news feed—no further action required. Again, the concept is that every site on the web is merely a page or section on Facebook; that Facebook, instead of a walled garden hidden from the web, is now the firmament on which the rest of the web rests.
  3. Finally—and here’s the part that freaks some people out—your friends’ faces will show up on websites where they’ve clicked the “like” button. Think about that. You’re on Joe’s website. You see your wife’s, girlfriend’s, and minister’s faces smiling at you from Joe’s website. The people who matter to you, and who you thought you had compartmentalized in the privacy of Facebook, a non-public-facing, password-protected website, are now out in the open. (Of course, they are out in the open to you. Achmed will see his friends, not yours. Still.)

So what will this Facebook’s redefinition mean, ultimately? No clue. But most of us, if we think about it, have seen Big Things like this come and go on the web. Remember when every third website required Microsoft Passport to unlock features or let you log in? And Mac and Linux users were angry, because the web is supposed to be an open platform, not a dominant vendor’s sandbox? Remember? Probably not. It was quite a big deal at the time, but almost nobody thinks about it now.

Just saying.

36 thoughts on “Like Buttons Falling From the Sky

  1. I made article about Like facebook button recently. I read some reviews and tried the plugin with my friends. Well that 3rd point i´ve got different conclusions at that time about the like button:

    – Like button its quit similar to fan button. The only difference i saw was the pictures of my facebook friends showing up when they liked the that particular article.
    – If another guy likes my stuff i wont see them because it wasn´t my Facebook friend.

    That was the conclusion i got from that. And should become pretty more safe about your faces concerned. But today i realize that ´re some web site plugins that shows your face for everyone!

    Facebook is conquer the world like twitter did.

  2. “Like” is the shortest participatory gesture available now.

    The demand for short participatory gestures will be answered by all kinds of suppliers and/or by the open web.

    I pray for the open web to win.

  3. With every little tidbit of Facebook news I’m more glad I’m not on it.

    PS – why did I need to enable cookies to post this comment?

  4. Well said, once again: “The web is supposed to be an open platform, not a dominant vendor’s sandbox.” Period.

  5. Remember when banner ads fell from the sky? I was talking to a mom at Girl Scouts, yesterday, who told me that she’s afraid of “like” buttons, but not for the reason that most people would assume (privacy). She said that she can’t stand the “chatter”, the thread of noise that you opt-into, when you hit one of those buttons. The web is a giant Skinner-box, and if the result of pushing “like” is ultimately perceived as negative, the use of it will be diminished… Time will tell…

  6. I do indeed remember the dreaded MS Passport days, Jeff. Remember when AOL tried to convince everyone that they were the Internet? Then, as people realized that wasn’t actually true, they tried to convince everyone they had the “parts of the Internet that you needed,” not the scary, unsafe parts. Now they have nothing.

    If Facebook follows suit, this could be their undoing. Or, as Peter so eloquently said above, “The web is a giant Skinner-box, and if the result of pushing “like” is ultimately perceived as negative, the use of it will be diminished.”

  7. Youtube went this route recently, and it sucks ballz.

    Can you imagine if the IMDB went thumbs up/thumbs down? We’d have to throw away the entire interweb and start over! :)

  8. I found & retweeted this a few days ago:

    “I have lost nearly all respect for Facebook and their privacy/identity people. You are an utter scum and clueless about social” -via @amyHillman’s retweet.

    I am on facebook because that’s how I keep up to date with friends/family that are 2000 mi. away, but I can’t stand the darn thing… I wish they just emailed, but they don’t. I wish they had a flickr account to post photos… but they don’t… I wish they just tweeted their status…. but they don’t…

    While I see what’s the benefit for them, is the same benefit you get from an all-in-one printer… crappy scanner, crappy printer, crappy copier… not good enough at anything it does. That’s facebook.

    Then when they blatantly say “I don’t give a darn about users privacy” makes me want to push the ‘delete my account’ button… But then again, I am stuck with it because I still care for my friends and family.

    A necessary evil, indeed.

    “Mau, You and many more don’t like facebook’s attitude”

  9. So this has nothing to do with whether or not we like something or not, it’s monetization. Like something and then Facebook “instantly personalizes” that for you (presuming you didn’t turn that off.) Not sure why you didn’t discuss the privacy aspect of this, possibly because you’re keeping it focused on design, but a Web Junta just occurred from Zuckerberg. As the Register wrote in an article,

    It’s like walking into Walmart for the first time and the greeter calling your mom (you’re wearing a shirt with your mom’s number on it, apparently) and asking what you and your friends like to eat, then handing you a shopping cart with suggested purchases.”

    For the benefit of finding and making friends on Facebook, people may find that worth it. They may want what everything they do online monetized and shared with advertisers who want to show them a personalize ad from Facebook while reading the news on CNN. Of course Facebook is tracking wherever you go to have that instant personalization at the ready.

    What has happened is Facebook’s walled garden now has an irrigation system with drains that capture drips from our likes. You like and a precious commodity flows into a content pool.

    Zuckerberg wants us to live in Facebook, that’s the Junta that occured last week, and should make designers pause for a moment and wonder if their future is desiging garden walls and fan pages instead of websites.

  10. I don’t need to know this much about anyone.

    I don’t care this much about most people.

    I don’t use Facebook or twitter.

    I’ve been a successful web developer for 11 years.

  11. Facebook has the worst platform I have ever developed for. It even makes me pine longingly for Windows.

    If you want your site to be slow and unreliable, then I highly recommend adding Facebook javascript.

  12. We’re now moving away from recommending Facebook widgets and plugins to clients as a means to replace their own web resources. This latest announcement doesn’t surprise me, but is very concerning. Facebook is AOL from 1997 without the monthly service fee or the stacks of CD-ROMs littered everywhere.

    Remember when National Geographic had ‘AOL Keyword’ printed right at the top yellow of the cover of each issue? That is, until they came to their senses and finally dropped that and placed their own open URL instead.

    Yet, in 2010, we’re moving back to a single-company-sanitization of the web I’m afraid, only replace ‘AOL Keyword’ with ‘Facebook Profile’.


    — Chris

  13. @DL Byron and the generation much older than us too. My parents and their friends think Facebook is the Internet too.

    Anyone up for some Farmville?

  14. I don’t forget unpleasant experiences very quickly as I’ve learned a lot from them. Along with Microsoft Office version 6 for Mac I definitively remember Passport. It sometimes got in the way of doing simple work-related things because it didn’t work on my browser.

    You get a little of the Passport feeling now with the “Install Silverlight” popups on Microsoft dominated sites. It’s been a while but I used to run into MSN and Live required sign-ups too, probably on Windows-centric tech forums (I dabble in cross-platform IT).

    Your post is timely. This morning I was checking out OpenLike as it appears that it may be a nice way to deal with my bosses social network sharing requests for our company blog. It does the whole Facebook simplified “Like” button.

    I’m not sure what to think, if it wasn’t Facebook it’d be someone else. Everyone wants to be your social portal.

  15. Why is there no “like” button? I really want to post this to my Wall, but now I guess I’ll have to use the power-user method. :)

  16. hope we get “dislike” buttons too then ;)
    or better still a thumbs-down button so people are fed to the lions.

  17. So.. when is the facebook browser coming out?
    [x] LIKE!

    …like hell I do.
    heh.. in good humor.

  18. I think Facebook like button is a good thing and is an alternative way of Google and other major search engines ranking other websites which is mainly based on incoming links.

    In other words, websites can rank better based on their design and what they offer rather than links so we could see better websites and this could redefine the traditional search.

  19. Oh, I remember the “Passport is Evil” rants across the web, and you’re exactly right. This is the same thing, with the exception that no one seems to care now. People seem all to happy to let all their data reside with one company, as long as that company isn’t Microsoft.

  20. Good post, great comments.
    Facebook is the Internet because it’s very easy to use… it’s not even a kinda Content Management System like blogs, no FTP knowledge is required… Just a very somehow vicious clicking buttons,
    I’m not in anymore… though I would have to thank that network ’cause there is where I digital-met Zeldman >:)

  21. Mr. Duke, the last time I checked, banner ads are still around. Personally, I don’t know anyone losing sleep over how great they are.

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