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msnbc.com
updated 3/2/2011 3:32:46 PM ET 2011-03-02T20:32:46

Facebook unhinged its mighty jaws and continued the laborious process of ingesting the entire Internet yesterday with the blog announcement of Comment Box, a social plugin that publishes user comments made on third party websites to your Facebook profile, and vice versa.

Soft-launched last year, Comment Box is a serious game changer in the world of Internet comments, further connecting third party websites with your Facebook account, portending an Internet of the very near future where even when you leave Facebook for other parts of the Web, you’re never really gone.

Note: Comment Box is a Facebook product built for third party websites. Only third party websites that choose to use Facebook's commenting platform have it. Comment Box is obviously Facebook-branded, so you should know it when you see it.

You'll encounter Comment Box on non-Facebook websites of the near future if you haven't already. You'll find it on many of the TODAY Show blogs such as the The Clicker and Kathy Lee & Hoda. And TechCrunch is experimenting with it right now. You may've already stumbled upon it on a friend’s Facebook profile. Familiarize yourself with this system so you don't go blindly blathering to the world on account of you can’t be bothered to read the fine print.

Here's how Comment Box works:

  • If you post a comment on a website using Facebook’s Comment Box plugin, and you’re already signed in on Facebook, you won’t need to login to leave a comment.
  • The comment you leave will appear on that outside website’s comment area with your real name (or whatever name you’re using on Facebook, which according to the terms of service, must be your own). Along with your Facebook name, other unblockable Facebook profile information may appear on the third party website where you comment, such as the school you attend or where you work.
  • The comment you leave on the third party website using Comment Box will simultaneously appear on you Facebook page, where your friends can see it and comment too.
  • If your friends comment on your comment via Facebook, their comments will simultaneously appear on the third party website too.
  • A prompt next to the comment box on your Facebook profile will inform your friends they’re about to post on a third party website. It’s your friend’s job to read for comprehension before responding. Good luck with that.
  • Additionally, if your friends respond to your comment on the third party website, their comments will appear on your Facebook profile, unless they uncheck the permission box next to the comment field.
via Facebook
Comments made on both TechCrunch and Facebook appeared on my Facebook profile, so my friends and I had a conversation even though we were on two separate websites. (Identities redacted to protect the innocent.) Welcome to the future of the social Internet, kids!

Here's what Comment Box does for you ... and third party websites

  • Content that goes viral on Facebook — the links you post or share — receives a marked boost in popularity. You see your friends commenting on a website, you get curious and you check it out. Everybody wins.
  • Comment Box requires your "real identity." Why is that a good thing? Some see this as a tool to keep comments civil — you  know, that big myth that if we’re all forced to use our real names, Internet trolls will magically disappear.
  • Your real name allows Facebook and third parties to track your online behavior. All the better to sell you stuff, my dear!
  • As a user, you will receive a more personalized experience on the third party website as your friends' comments appear at the top of the section, reportedly.
  • If you have a Facebook page as well as a Facebook profile, you can choose to comment as either entity. The transition is seamless.
  • If you pay any attention at all, you get fair warning that the comment you post on your friend's Facebook profile will also appear on the third party website.

Here are some bugs and annoyances:

  • Trolls (perhaps operating under "fake" Facebook profiles — hey, it happens. A  lot.) can see your "real" name and other identifying factors.
  • Click on a comments update while you’re on Facebook, and you’ll be sent out of Facebook to the comment section on the third party website — not to the comment section where the conversation is duplicated. Once there, you may have to scroll through the comments of strangers to see your original conversation. That’s annoying.
  • Delete your responding comment on Facebook and it disappears on the third party website. If you delete your comment on the third party website however, it appears you’ll have to return to Facebook and delete your comment a second time there.
  • Currently, you’ll need a Facebook account to comment on websites using the Comment Box platform, though Facebook is attempting to partner with other login providers. Seeing as Google and Twitter are on the outs business-wise with Facebook, those two giant options are probably not viable.
  • If you’re in an environment that blocks Facebook, such as your workplace, you won’t be able to leave comments.
  • Comment Box helps normalize the casual sharing of personal information on every aspect of the Internet. You may think you’ve got "nothing to hide," but that argument pretty much proves the point. Just sayin’.  

More stories about Facebook and privacy:

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