Last week, I interviewed Bret Taylor, the co-founder of FriendFeed, a new website which aggregates content you’re sharing around the web and shares it with your friends.
Today, Facebook launched a feature specifically designed to make it easier to share content from around the web, called Feed Importing. Like FriendFeed, just enter your credentials for your accounts at supported partner sites and your content will appear in your Mini Feed (and your friends’ News Feeds).
According to Facebook’s Harry Wang,
The option to import stories from other sites can be found via the small “Import” link at the top of your Mini-Feed. Only a few sites—Flickr, Yelp, Picasa, and del.icio.us—are available for importing at the moment, but we’ll be adding Digg and other sites in the near future. These stories will look just like any other Mini-Feed stories, and will hopefully increase your ability to share information with the people you care about.
This will certainly make Facebook a more powerful way to share content – currently, users have to actively “Post” items to their profiles or for certain friends. FriendFeed’s Taylor said the service was already the #2 referrer for some bloggers – if Facebook expands the feature to allow users to import any feed, will the same be true of Facebook?
However, Facebook feed importing is not quite FriendFeed–yet. Unlike FriendFeed, Facebook doesn’t allow conversations to take place in the feed itself. However, with an upcoming update to the Profile page, Facebook has alluded to a new kind of in-line “publishing flow” in the Mini Feed.
One further obvious difference with FriendFeed: while you can import RSS into Facebook, you can’t syndicate your Mini Feed or News Feed via RSS.
As Facebook users syndicate more content from external sources, selecting which of those feed items for News Feed distribution could become complicated. Facebook will need to continue developering effective News Feed selection algorithms to keep the News Feed from becoming too spammy.