In Big New Product Push, Facebook Set to Launch 6.5 Million New Community Pages

In what amounts to a big new product push for the company, Facebook is turning previously static information in user profiles into links to 6.5 million new Community Pages. It’s also further clarifying the point of Pages, dividing out official ones for businesses, celebrities and other known entities from from the “community” ones.

These move will help Facebook more clearly identify what users care about — and help it achieve higher search engine results for Community Pages on any topic imaginable.

The company has also renamed how users interact with Pages, borrowing the term “Like” from the action of giving a news feed item a thumbs-up. As has previously leaked out, now users will “Like” a Page to become a fan of it; this is a conceptually different use of the term than before, and we’ll see how users take to it.

Facebook’s new conceptual term for all these Pages, as well as your friends lists, relationship status and other social information, is “Connections.” It has also made a number of corresponding privacy changes on this front, which we’ll get into once we explain the product changes.

The Community Page Push

Community Pages are intended to capture public-facing topics, concepts, themes and anything else that doesn’t fit either as something “official” or as a narrowly-focused Group. Examples can be anything from geographic locations to types of cuisine to whatever else you can imagine. Many unofficial Pages are being converted into Community Pages, with one key difference being that Community Pages don’t have owners if they get big enough. This also means they don’t get out into the news feed.

Right now, many Community Pages appear to include a note saying “Our goal is to make this Community Page the best collection of shared knowledge on this topic. If you have a passion for Corvallis, Oregon, sign up and we’ll let you know when we’re ready for your help.” But if you click “sign up”, you see another note that says “Thank you for wanting to improve this Community Page. We’ll let you know when we’re ready for your suggestions.” It’s not clear what Facebook will add here that might allow people to curate the content, although this appears likely.

The new Pages started going live on April 1, but the company didn’t reveal much about it then. Now we know more. Facebook has both designated some existing Pages as new “Community Pages” and it has also created 6.5 million on its own, it tells us. These new Pages include a live stream of all recent relevant Facebook information from your friends — as well as public status updates — in addition to relevant information about the Page as drawn from Wikipedia. There are a few other bells and whistles here; pages about locations, for example, often include maps.

Facebook is now prompting users to edit their profile information to link either to official Pages or to Community Pages.

Starting now, Facebook users who go to their profile pages will see a popup window that says “Link your profile to these [X number of] pages?” The pages you’ll see, judging by our test, include home town, current location, education, interests, and other items you’ve previously designated. You can select which of these pages will be shown publicly to people who aren’t your Facebook friends or aren’t logged in when they look for you.

Note that if you don’t feel like dealing with any of the changes now, you can choose to defer for 24 hours (but not longer) or “Choose Pages Individually.” The latter option, as you’d assume, lets you decide which information will be linked or not.