Facebook opens status API

Facebook announced several new APIs for its platform. The new interfaces allow access to content, and methods for sharing that content through several Facebook Applications. Included in the new accessible APIs are Facebook status, notes, links and video. Oh goody, a new tsunami of inane, fundamentally useless third-party application install requests to turn down.

According to Facebook, 15 million users update their statuses each day and share 24 million links per month. With this move, that content and the ability to share that content is now available through Facebook standard APIs.

Applications can now directly access all of a user's status, links and notes via new methods and FQL calls. A third-party application can access any status, notes or links from the active user or his/her friends that are currently visible to the active user. Facebook has also opened new APIs for developer apps to post links, create notes or upload videos for the current user. They’ve also made setting a user's status easier.

An unbiased observer who makes casual use of the Facebook service will no doubt shudder at the implications of this move. The avalanche of harebrained, trite, meaningless new options a user will be bombarded with makes one absolutely giddy with anticipation.  While the move’s stated purpose is to help users create and share more content, one can postulate that additional screens to serve advertising is somewhat of a motivational factor.

Several web reporting gurus have heralded the end of Twitter by this move. They imply that greater openness with concern to status updates spells trouble for Twitter, the bourgeoning microblog service that Facebook made an unsuccessful move on. Never happened. The two services have a fundamentally different user attitude. Twitter is like the stock ticker for keeping up with friends, areas of interest and interesting personalities. Plus, there is no "online" status indicator, and that means you can lurk if not up to interaction. If Twitter Groups ever catches on, that will further narrow and improve the focus and usefulness of the service.

Facebook requires more user interaction. The new instant chat option means you can get pinged for conversation at any time. The user profile requires more thought and fuller disclosure. You log into Facebook and you need to be ready to interact, whether you want to or not. The two platforms serve different user needs. Facebook’s opening of the new set of APIs is another way of allowing third party app builders to do the creative work and when the dust settles, see what’s popular.