At today’s f8 conference, Facebook announced several new products, including a series of social “plugins” (widgets) that enable third-party websites to incorporate Facebook’s social functionality onto their sites to increase distribution and user engagement.
One of these is the activity stream plugin, which displays to the visitor personalized, recent activity happening on the site, bringing a filtered view on Facebook’s activity stream to the third-party site, without requiring that visitor to log in to the site. The screenshot to the right is from the Facebook developer site.
Here’s how it looks to the user, using CNN.com as an example.
- The user visits a site, such as CNN.com
- CNN.com has implemented Facebook’s activity stream plugin, which hosts activity stream content from Facebook
- If the user is logged in to Facebook, the activity stream plugin will display that user’s friends’ activity related to CNN.com in the Recent Activity module
- If the user is not logged in to Facebook, the activity stream plugin will display recent activity related to CNN.com from everyone on Facebook and give that user the option to log in to Facebook
- If the user has minimal friend activity related to CNN.com, then the activity stream plugin will display activity from everyone on Facebook
In the above example, since the content in the Recent Activity module is still hosted by Facebook, none of the above flow requires the user to log in to CNN.com.
The plugin currently only works for exact domain matches, so, for example, an activity stream plugin implementation on insidefacebook.com would not also work on insidenetwork.com.
According to Bret Taylor, Director of Product and former CEO and Co-Founder at FriendFeed, Facebook wants all the social plugins work together to “allow [users] to make any page a Facebook Page.”