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2/28/2011
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Facebook Adds Share Capabilities To Like Button

The functionality is expected to bolster page views and traffic for third-party advertisers and content creators.

Facebook on Sunday added Share capabilities to its Like button, both on third-party sites and on its developer documentation site.

When Facebook users click Like on a third-party site, a story -- complete with headline, blurb, and thumbnail photograph -- appears on their wall. In addition, users can choose to comment. In the past, only a link to a story appeared in the recent activity section of users' walls unless users chose the "Like with Comment" option. Under Facebook's latest change, Like, Share, and Recommend buttons all result in the same thing: A full story, headline, and picture.

"The Like button lets a user share your content with friends on Facebook. When the user clicks the Like button on your site, a story appears in the user's friends' News Feed with a link back to your Web site," wrote Facebook on its developer documentation site.

Facebook is continuing to support Share, although its Like button is the preferred technology, a company spokesperson told InformationWeek.

"We're currently testing new features of the Like button, but have no details to share at this time. We're always testing new products that incorporate developer feedback as we work to improve the Platform experience," the spokesperson said in an email. "While we’ll continue to support Share, Like is the recommended solution moving forward. The Like button is easy to implement, encompasses the functionality of Share (with additional features), and is lightweight for users."

The move could reduce user confusion over which button to use, especially if Share is dropped in the future. However, the move is more widely viewed as a positive one for advertisers and content creators who can expect to see page views increase as referrals drive traffic to their sites, according to several published reports.

"This move is all about the page views. It allows more exposure for websites, boosting the importance of Facebook integration across the board. As traffic sent to websites goes up as a result of this change, more prominence and attention will be given to Facebook as a necessary tool for exposure, promotions, and marketing," JD Rucker, president of Hasai, a Facebook marketing firm, wrote in a social media marketing blog. "The longer that people are unaware that Liking posts directly to their wall, the better from Facebook’s perspective. They don’t want people to be selective with their Likes the way they are with their Shares. The more content that is posted to walls and news feeds, the better off Facebook will be."

Some Facebook users already are voicing dissatisfaction with the Like button's expanded role, with accountholders displeased about third-party information being posted or shared on their Facebook walls. "RIP Facebook 'Share' Button," tweeted DieselBT of Azusa, Calif. Responded K0h4ku, the Twitter handle for Amber Green of the Los Angeles area: "Yeah, I bet people will use it less for sure."

Facebook frequently makes changes to its features and Web site -- and often runs into resistance from some of its 500 million-plus users. On Friday, the company posted a re-imagined privacy policy for end-user comments, hoping to address some consumers' concerns about the legalese surrounding the company's existing policy.

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