Facebook is rolling out a new feature this week: The LIKE button. Okay, this is not exactly a new feature. People familiar with Facebook already know and love the LIKE button. You have undoubtedly used it before. When you are logged into Facebook and saw something on someone else's profile, newsfeed or app, you could press a little button labeled "LIKE" and it would instantly be posted to your profile. It is a convenient little button. It makes it very easy to cast a "vote" about something and share it with your circle of friends.
So what is so different about this week's announcements? What Facebook announced this week is really an extension of this feature. Specifically, you will now start to see little Facebook LIKE buttons showing up on other sites. Whereas it was previously only a feature to be used on Facebook.com, somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 other websites have agreed to place these buttons around their sites. Specifically designed for news sites, such as The Wall Street Journals' MarketWatch.com, the idea is to help users integrate news and other points of interest from other sites with their Facebook profile.
I'm not sure I see this as a huge innovation as there were already little icons to "Post this to your facebook page" on many sites before. Furthermore, it feels very much like a DIGG or any of the hundreds of other social voting services that are out there. But from a developer and data architecture standpoint, this is different. Specifically, Facebook will now know what types of news stories and websites you like to go to. While I am not totally sold on how much this really enhances the user experience, I can certainly understand why Facebook wants this data. And it fits into their overall strategy to grow from a novelty social site to a serious commercial player. The more they know, the more data they can sell. The more they know, the better they can tailor the ads they show you. It's a page right out of Google's playbook really.