Somewhere lost in the middle of the battle for user data, is well, the user. I say that with my tongue firmly planted in cheek, because at the end of the day we’re giving it up for free. Starting today, Facebook is rolling out a set of tools designed to help media and news organizations better integrate Facebook conversations into their broadcasts.
In addition to the roll-out, Facebook is announcing media and news organizations will have access to public posts in real-time of relevant topics. Facebook is making available its Public Feed API and Keyword Insights API to a small group of partners initially, with the assumption a full-scale adoption at Facebook’s discretion.
Leveraging our love…to share
I’m sure you’ve caught official hashtags for sporting events, or the steady stream of #BreakingBad in your social stream. If you watch any show on networks like NBC, CBS, ABC, USA, Comedy Central, etc. you’re well aware that they’re already integrating social media content, specifically tweets. We, as users, love to share. Which means we love to share personal data about ourselves.
For context, the opening weekend of the NFL season garnered 20 million likes, comments, and shares on Facebook by over 8 million people. From the Facebook announcement:
Over the past few months, we have rolled out a series of products aimed at surfacing the public conversations happening on Facebook including hashtags, embedded posts, and trending topics. We are committed to building features that improve the experience of discovering and participating in conversations about things happening in the world right now, including entertainment, sports, politics and news.
Prime time for Facebook data
Facebook has set its sights dead set on prime time television, too. According to data Facebook released with the announcement, between 88 and 100 million people in the US were logged into the site during television primetime hours of 8pm and 11pm.
- New tools
Lets unwrap the two tools Facebook made available today to a small set of partners: Public Feed API and Keyword Insights API.
The Public Feed API displays a real-time feed of public posts for a specific word. Only public posts (from Pages and Profiles of those with ‘Follow’ turned on) are available with this API.
Facebook says the Keyword Insights API aggregates the total number of posts that mention a specific term in a given time frame. It can also display anonymous, aggregated results based on gender, age and location.
- New partners
Facebook’s current list of partners on the roll-out includes: Buzzfeed, CNN, NBC’s Today Show, BSkyB, Slate. and Mass Relevance.
In the world of Facebook vs. Twitter, there seems to be a lot more copycatting on the Facebook side of the table. What Twitter has already proved to work with news and media organizations, Facebook is trying to carve out its chunk of the pie. First hashtags, then trending topics, and now giving media partners more access to user data — if those three are steps towards a bigger social networking goal, Facebook seems to be playing catch-up to Twitter. Is Twitter in a better position than Facebook? Is my personal data safe?
What about our mobile data?
While you ponder on that, lets talk about the elephant in the room: user’s data. You, as the user on each of these free social networks, are producing massive amounts of personal data and communication threads. Whether you are aware of it or not, more and more companies are having access to that personal data — oh, and Facebook and Twitter collectively “own” all of it.
What is surprisingly absent from the announcement by Facebook is specifically how this data translates to mobile users. In fact, the word mobile wasn’t used in the release once. I wrote about 3 Ways Facebook Can Cash Out on Mobile Security-as-a-Service back in July, and I expected to see a mention of the security angle of giving media access to its user data, given the additional data points that come along with mobile participation, such as location.
I don’t know what the event is going to be, but there is going to come a day where an event happens that makes everyone contributing personal data “for free” to the social Internet that is going to send the collective narrative into a “what was I thinking” state of shock.
User data, user privacy, personal data, own my personal data, personal privacy and security are going to be the buzzwords of the over-connected Internet of Things we’re creating.