Facebook’s F8 Announcements – Too Much Information!

As always when major news happens in the online marketing arena, I’ve spent a fair amount of time today digesting the announcements Facebook made at its F8 Developer conference yesterday (see Facebook’s page on the event). While I’ve never been much of a Facebook fan to begin with (I’m just not exhibitionist by nature), the new features seem over-the-top… even for people who do like to share. How much do we really want to know about hundreds of other people, after all? And how much more time do people really have to waste on daily trivia and minutiae? I think it’s time to call TMI.

If you haven’t seen or read about the new Facebook updates, these were the key news highlights:

Timeline. The redesigned Facebook Profile includes a “Timeline” allowing users to go back as far as their birth date and fill in with pictures and important events, essentially creating & sharing their entire autobiographical photo history.

New Apps. With a new developer capability called Open Graph, Facebook apps will now allow users to share with their friends whatever they’re doing – automatically. You’ll be notifying your friends about what you’re reading, what music you’re listening to, what you’re watching, and whatever else developers can think of for you to share. The news of your activity will appear in a new Ticker stream. Then your friends can copy you or share the experience with a single click.

Facebook Partners. To illustrate what you can do with the new Open Graph apps, Facebook announced partnerships with a bunch of media and entertainment companies (see Why Netflix, Spotify and Others are Friending Facebook). All of them referenced examples of how you can share and consume news & entertainment — without ever leaving Facebook.

So, does this make you want to jump in and add, not just your recent photos like before, but your entire life history in pictures for the world to see? Does it make you hungry to know everything that all your Facebook friends are reading, watching and listening to? Does it tempt you to leave behind the onerous task of browsing all your favorite news & entertainment websites, so you can consume their content from inside Facebook?

Hmmm. Not me. Doesn’t make me want to jump aboard. Maybe I’m a luddite or a hermit or just anti-social. But what I’ve read elsewhere about the Facebook updates shows I’m not alone. Here are some reactions from others that I happen to agree with.

New York Times. Facebook as Tastemaker. Can Facebook become the primary channel for web users to determine where and how they spend their time & money? Perhaps, but some think such big goals will eventually be their undoing, just as Microsoft and AOL stumbled by overreaching.

Biznology. The New Facebook: I Get it and I Don’t. Facebook’s focus has now turned from acquiring new users (who doesn’t use it at this point?) to expanding what users do on the site. But who can (or wants to) absorb and learn all these new things? Not me, says author Frank Reed.

Mashable. Is Facebook Trying to Kill Privacy? Good question, as the new features encourage users to put their entire life online. If you don’t want your friends knowing or sharing all this information about you, Facebook provides inline privacy controls so you can manage how much you want shared (though given their acquired social habits, many users won’t bother). But even if you don’t mind sharing your details with friends, you should still be concerned that Facebook will own all the data – and has yet to reveal how they’ll share and act upon that knowledge.

ReadWriteWeb. Reactions to Facebook’s F8 Keynote. Want to know what the audience thought at the F8 event? This infographic will at least tell you how they tweeted about it.

GigaOm. Media Companies Revisit Their AOL Days with Facebook. Among the news from Facebook’s F8 Conference yesterday was the partnerships with media companies such as The Washington Post, The Guardian newspaper, The Daily from News Corp. and Yahoo News that will allow users to consume their news from within Facebook. Many news commentators are calling this approach a “walled garden” (e.g. users get everything they need inside FB and will never venture out), comparing it to the early days of the Internet when AOL offered users a single portal to make it easier to navigate the scary new online world. But is anyone really still scared to explore the Web on their own?

What about you? Do you like what Facebook announced at F8? What have you read about the announcements that makes the new features sound enticing? I’m open to being converted, after all.