Facebook Rolls Out Robust Third-Party Commenting Platform

If you condemn Facebook on the charge of cyber colonialism, hardly anyone will disagree with you. Facebook has rolled out its upgraded Commenting Plugin for third party websites. The plugin consist of a gamut of new features. We had earlier reported this change at the beginning of February. With yhis announcement Facebook also mentioned a list of the publishers, with whom they are partnering for the initial roll out. The list includes Redbook, Discovery, SportingNews and others. The first one to implement this integration was Examiner.

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How does the new plugin work? Examiner has issued a press release explaining it:
When a person leaves a comment on an Examiner.com story, it can also be published to friends on Facebook, along with a link to the Examiner.com story where the comment originated. Users of the Examiner.com site and other sites enabled with this feature will be able to comment with additional identity providers beyond Facebook. In addition, the Comments plugin provides a rich set of moderation tools that empower the Examiner to mitigate spam and malicious content. Readers can also help cut down on irrelevant content by marking comments as spam, or reporting them as being abusive.

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Facebook’s Ray C. He in a blogpost on the developer blog, pointed out some of the key features of the upgraded Commenting Plugin. The highlights are, ‘best comment first’, ‘improved moderation’ tools and ‘better distribution’. Comments usually appear to users in a chronological way. But, the ‘best comment first’ feature will rank comments and place the ones, which are contextual and of high quality, right at the top. He explains, “Comments are ordered to show users the most relevant comments from friends, friends of friends, and the most liked or active discussion threads, while comments marked as spam are hidden from view.”

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Moderation tool supplements the first one. While going through a comment, a user will be able to mark comments as spam or report it as being abusive. The blogpost reads, “Admins can choose to make the default for new comments entered either “visible to everyone” or “has limited visibility” on the site (i.e., the comment is only visible to the commenter and their friends), to help mitigate irrelevant content.”

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The easy sharing feature lets users post their comments on Facebook from a third party website. On the publisher’s site, a user will seethe option, ‘Post to Facebook’. If they select that option, then the comments published on the publisher website will be posted on his Facebook wall. Also, one comment will be threaded with another like a series to make sure a user doesn’t miss anything. Users will also receive notifications for comments posted as a reply to his comment on the publisher’s website. He explains,”Users will also receive a notification whenever another user replies to their comment. Clicking on the notification will take the user back to the web page where the comment originated, driving more traffic back to your site.”

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What is really interesting is Facebook’s announcement that the publishers can allow users to log in with other login providers. He informs, “If the user does not have a Facebook account or is not logged into Facebook, she can comment with other accounts to leave a comment. We plan to add other login providers soon.” Though it’s a publisher’s decision, the list of allowed services will be governed by Facebook. Yahoo is on board, but Twitter and Google have been given a miss. This is not surprising as along with Facebook, Twitter and Google have been used as a login key by most commenting plugins. So, Facebook doesn’t want to include its rivals in its social plugin.

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I used the phrase cyber colonialism at the beginning. It’s not just an introductory note. The way Facebook is letting third party developers and publishers use its API, is automatically resulting in the social network’s hegemony. Facebook is already present on more than 250,000 websites with its “Like” button and now comes the Commenting Plugin. Facebook has also upgraded its “Like” button recently, which now, instead of just posting a link on the News Feed now posts a story with a headline and thumbnail. With this improvement, the “like” button is expected to be seen on websites of all genres. With the Commenting Plugin, users interact on other website with their Facebook identity. With these two upgraded features Facebook has taken another step towards being the defacto internet identity provider.

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