Go Ahead, Punk, Make Your Comment
This story has more sides to it than a rhombus in a kaleidoscope. Facebook is now offering any site the option to deploy Facebook's comments system, allowing posts to appear in a wall-like manner on the posting user's Facebook account, increasing web engagement all around.
Comments are a double-edged sword for all sites; they generate a lot of interest, add valuable site time and engage readers. Alas, they also have the potential for rabblerousing, spam and are a pain for admins to manage and police. This move can cure some of those issues but also create many more.
Facebook wades into the action by allowing sites to let users cross-post comments to their FB account, which could massively increase the amount of exposure that a site or story gets. On the other hand, forum posters will become easily identifiable if they click on the "post to Facebook" box. Would you post on forums, publishing your personal details for a whole new audience?
Choose Your Poison
The move might deter a lot of spam posters -- until they set up shop with rogue or hacked Facebook accounts -- but the system could also lead to more confrontation between users when issues get heated. "We know where you live" would become more than just an empty threat.
Of course, sites don't have to use Facebook's system, so it'll be interesting to see what the reaction is from high-profile and niche sites alike to the offering. The possible advantages are that it helps gets rid of the need for individual signups, and sites can get to know more about their users.
However, sites could lose the ability to archive their own comments, could lose interest from visitors unwilling to expose themselves in this manner and, should something untoward happen to an account, could be blamed by an unhappy user.
Whether users will like the idea on balance and choose to use, or ignore the site, is up to them. Having added Facebook Chat to Hotmail a couple of weeks ago, Facebook is expanding outside its own borders at pace -- something that will alarm many who see it as an all-powerful social machine. Will all our digital roads end up leading to Facebook? Or are users sensible enough to choose when and when not to reveal their details?