Facebook opens up timeline app platform to all

Summary:The social network has opened the gates for general adoption of its Open Graph protocol, which lets developers turn web pages into apps that appear in Facebook members' timelines

Facebook has fully launched its Open Graph platform, which lets developers turn their web pages into objects that fit into the timelines of the social network's users.

Facebook timeline

Facebook has opened the gates for general adoption of its Open Graph protocol, which lets developers turn web pages into apps that appear in Facebook members' timelines. Image credit: Facebook

The company is now approving Facebook app actions that meet its guidelines, it said on Thursday. Some apps or 'objects' using the Open Graph protocol already exist in Facebook, but the new move opens the floodgates for a general adoption of the technology.

At the same time, Facebook unveiled more than 60 new partners with apps that use the Open Graph protocol, including Autotrader, Lyst, Soundcloud, Mixcloud, Artfinder and s[edition] in the UK.

"Starting today, developers can build apps that let people add anything they love to their timelines — whether it is eating, travelling, shopping, running or taking pictures," Facebook said in a blog post.

The Open Graph project is part of Facebook's drive to keep web surfers within the confines of the social network, where it can analyse and profit from their activities and interactions.

People use the apps without leaving the page, and the activity is shown in their timeline via posts such as 'John Brown listened to My Life in Their Hands on Spotify' — which Facebook describes as an 'action'. In the UK, partners already using the platform include The Guardian and Independent newspapers, whose articles can be read on Facebook without going to the newspapers' own sites.

Starting today, developers can build apps that let people add anything they love to their timelines.

– Facebook

With this, Facebook is creating an alternative to a search engine, setting up its network as a place where people can discover and consume new content. Meanwhile, arch-rival Google is approaching the contest from the other side, integrating elements of its Google+ social platform into its core search engine product.

Facebook's guidelines for Open Graph app actions include a ban on hateful or sexually explicit actions or objects, as well as an insistence that the apps' privacy controls "work as intended". Developers are also urged to make sure they distinguish between actions that have a finite time span — for example, listening to a music track — and actions that could be described as 'perpetual', such as loving a concept or a hobby.

"For perpetual actions (eg 'love', 'want', 'need'), users don't stop loving, wanting, or needing the objects they are taking the action against, so until we offer the option to make an action perpetual, please set the action end time to far in the future. Eg. Brion loves 'movie title', Brion wants 'world peace'," the company said in its guidelines.


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Topics: Apps

About

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't be paying many bills. His early journalistic career was spent in general news, working behind the scenes for BBC radio and on-air as a newsreader for independent stations. David's main focus is on communications, of both... Full Bio

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