- Facebook is now letting all developers make apps that can automatically publish to profiles
- The system will try to guess the importance of an app based on past activity
- Facebook Music was a precursor to these new features
Joining "likes" on Facebook, the social network has added dozens of new types of posts, including "bought," "read" and "want."
Sixty applications that let users publish information automatically to Facebook launched at a news conference held at a trendy nightclub here on Wednesday. Many of these are new versions of existing online services or mobile apps.
Apps for foodies, like Foodspotting and Foodily, can publish to a user's Facebook profile when she updates her digital diary of meals. Ticketmaster can publish to Facebook when customers buy concert tickets.
Like with Facebook Music, the social network may create monthly personalized reports that are posted to a person's profile showing how the app was used at any given time. For example, someone could see the places a friend traveled to last summer, thanks to TripAdvisor.
Since the launch of Facebook Music in September, participants such as MOG and Spotify have reported large increases in membership. Some 400,000 people coming from Facebook have signed up for MOG accounts since September, and each day, Facebook sends an average of 4,000 people who have never visited MOG before, David Hyman, the music company's CEO, said in a phone interview.
"The platform itself is the biggest traffic generator we've ever had," Hyman said. "It is very significant."
Facebook programmers have created a mathematical algorithm that will examine the types of posts a person has chosen to give prominent placement to on his or her profile, Facebook CTO Bret Taylor said in an interview.
Whether food, movies or exercises logged into Facebook, the site will try to predict what you're most passionate about based on past choices, similar to how the system determines its news feed based partly on the people you contact most often, Taylor said. Each user will be able to manually override these profile placements, he said.
"People care a lot about the way their profile looks," Taylor said.
These features are only available to those who have enabled the Facebook Timeline, which opened to everyone about a month ago. Eventually, every user will be required to use that version of the site profile.
Taylor described the new app features as part of a maturation of Facebook, which goes beyond the initial perspective of its co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg, who coded the website in his sophomore year at Harvard University. Zuckerberg, who is now Facebook's CEO, did not attend the event Wednesday.
"Previously, the profile was all the things Mark Zuckerberg was interested in in college," Taylor said. "You know, movies, music and books."
(Zuckerberg, 27, only lists one book on his Facebook profile: Ender's Game, which came out the year after he was born.)
Facebook will review each new action, as it's called, that's proposed by developers in order to screen for profanity or other unwanted words, Mike Vernal, the company's platform engineering director, said in an interview. Software developers will be able to create an unlimited number of these actions, he said.
That would be useful for something like iTunes, which allows users to "listen," "watch" and "buy" things, although Apple is not participating in the program. A spokesman didn't respond to a request for comment.
Despite some early opposition, Facebook wants to encourage all developers to adopt the new tools.
"We've got a whole new set, a whole new class, of applications that we think we're enabling with this platform," Carl Sjogreen, a Facebook product director, said onstage during the announcement. "When we say anything, we really mean anything."
In characteristic Facebook ambition, Sjogreen added, "We're even more excited about the thousands of apps to come."