Oct. 11, 2012 at 1:43 PM ET
Tired of Facebook sharing every little article you read or song you listen to, using its "Open Graph" system? So is Facebook, apparently. Apps will soon need user permission to share "like," "follow," "listen," "read" or "watch" actions, according to product engineer Henry Zhang, who posted the new rules on Facebook's developer blog.
"In order to provide users with experiences that meet their expectations, we will no longer approve custom actions that publish stories as people consume content," he wrote. "These apps must use the appropriate built-in actions or create a different sharing experience."
"Apps that help people automatically share stories about content as they consume it, such as the music you are listening to, can be good experiences when apps create clear expectations for the user of what is being shared and when," Zhang wrote. "When apps automatically publish stories on a person’s behalf in a way that is unexpected, such as when they browse an online store, it can surprise and confuse people."
The change is to take place "in the next 90 days," Zhang said.
Meanwhile, Facebook stories that lead with images and location are being made "more prominent" in Facebook's news feeds and Timeline, Zhang said.
"In early tests, the new image-led stories have shown 70 percent more clicks for apps that provide high quality, relevant imagery with low spam rates," Zhang wrote. "In certain cases, we have seen these stories generate up to 50x more Likes than equivalent story types from before. The new location stories provide double-digit gains in distribution to apps."
The Open Graph changes may be welcome, but they're not totally altruistic: Facebook will annoy fewer of its users, but its goal is probably to be better "liked" by the Federal Trade Commission. The agency recently settled charges with Facebook over deceiving consumers and making them share more personal info they they intended.
The settlement requires Facebook to get user consent for some changes to privacy settings, and also subjects the site to 20 years of independent audits.