At some point in the past 48 hours Facebook has made public profile comments and likes public information. Earlier this week I was browsing through public profiles (aka. Facebook pages) and noticed that comments and likes were not public information. Then this morning I was browsing through Facebook pages (while not logged in to the site) to check out how much more popular Vin Diesel had become. Honestly, I was searching for was the number of comments and likes on any given feed story. Suddenly the information had become public and now I’m able to view all of the comments and likes for any given feed item.
So why on earth would Facebook make this information public? There may be a number of reasons that this information suddenly became public. First, and most important, is that Facebook could potentially open up the stream.get API call for all public profiles without requiring the “read_stream” extended permission.
If you aren’t a developer then you probably didn’t understand that last sentence. I’ll explain quickly. Just over a month ago, Facebook decided to open their stream API. The result was that developers could now request a user’s permission to access their stream. Contrast that with Twitter, in which all of a user’s recent tweets are public information via the statuses.user_timeline API call.
As the owner of a public profile (aka Facebook page), you probably didn’t create the page to keep the information private. Instead, that information should be publicly available via Facebook’s API without requiring additional permissions (that’s why they called it a “public profile”). While the streams of Facebook pages are not publicly available via the API, I would guess that they soon will consider adding the feature now that the information is now publicly available.
Another reason Facebook may have made this information publicly available is to get more juice from Google by letting the search engine crawl that data. Making comments publicly available also provides more backlinks to user profiles. In other words, Facebook will get more traffic from Google for making this information public. Why would Facebook make that information public to Google if they didn’t intend to make it available via the API?
I personally believe they wouldn’t, which is why they decided to go ahead with this subtle change. So does that mean we’ll soon see a corresponding upgrade to the API? I’m not sure but I’ve begun pinging people at Facebook to see if they’ll comment on it.