Facebook, the operating system

Facebook pulls you further into its loyalty schemes this month with a few clever advances. Docs.com gives Facebook users a way to find, create, or share Microsoft Office documents inside the Facebook ecosystem. Facebook’s Platform Showcase touts how major sites such as ABC, CNN, ESPN, NYTimes and Yelp are integrating FB functionality (“Look, honey, we can now share the news!!”). And back at the ranch, Facebook is running ads on its own user home pages promoting the “Like” button you’ll see across such partner sites — hoping you’ll click it to push that content around the stream to make all this document creating, web site partnering, and newsmongering work.

Razorfish’s Shiv Singh suggests Facebook will use data from users clicking “Like” around the Internet to build behavioral-targeted advertising, serving you marketing messages based on the fact you dig polka-dot bikini swimsuits. (Shiv, sorry, we’re paraphrasing.) Or the data could be collated and sold to advertisers and publishers to use in their own networks, with Facebook becoming the Experian-type list company of the entire Internet. We could get really crazy and suggest direct marketers will tap such lists, combining users’ self-admitted desires and the homophilic connections between them to drop junk mail into your house because your online friends love polka-dot bikini swimsuits. Imagine the irony of technology’s hippest online network making mail work better.

If all this sounds confusing, just imagine Facebook as a software platform running inside the Internet, building a level of utility that is hard to leave, adding open architecture that encourages others to plug into it. This strategy worked once for Microsoft. Someday, somewhere, we expect a college kid to launch a new sticky platform … and that one might run inside Facebook.

Image: Bekkchen

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