According to ReadWriteWeb’s Marshall Kirkpatrick, Facebook is planning to open up a firehose to the public Facebook stream at this year’s f8 event. What is included in that stream is not exactly clear, however it makes sense that Facebook would provide access to this sort of data. Given that Twitter now has an entire ecosystem of apps built around the public stream, it’s not surprising to hear Facebook is interested in offering similar services.
As Marshall Kirkpatrick points out in his article, whether or not the public publishing of this data means that users want that data to be broadcasted to a wider audience is not clear. Facebook is relatively transparent in explaining how publishing to your profile with the “Everyone” settings means that literally anybody in the world can view that information.
Right now, accessing a user’s public stream requires knowing their user ID, however if Facebook provides a stream, third-party developers will instantly have access to the account IDs of every user who publishes public content. This is extremely valuable for data analysis purposes among other things. Whether or not the public stream will simply include all Facebook Page stream data (which is already accessible via the stream.get API call) or if it will also include user updates is unknown.
My guess is that it will include user information and it will also function in ways that’s similar to Twitter. I’d also hope that the result is that we’ll get access to Facebook’s version of “trending topics” and more. However the firehose is opened, there’s no doubt that this information will be welcomed by developers and data enthusiasts. Whether or not users will support this move is unknown, but at the least, users will soon realize how much of their information really is public if the firehose launches next month!