Social reading and publishing site Scribd is the latest service to adopt Facebook’s Instant Personalization.
A blog post on Facebook by Facebook Platform product marketing manager Fran Larkin explains: “Starting today, when you visit Scribd while logged into Facebook, you will see personalized reading recommendations based on what your friends are sharing and on your Facebook likes and interests. And when you find something that you enjoy, with a simple click of the Like button, you can quickly and easily share it with your friends.”
Apparently Scribd users share more than 55,000 items every day, including teachers disseminating class materials, authors publishing books, friends exchanging recipes and hobbyists discovering antique manuals.
When I visited Scribd, a link on the top right-hand side of the page invited me to “Log in with Facebook”. Underneath it said “This person, this person [names redacted] and 8 others have connected to Scribd” and gave me 10 profile pics of various Facebook friends.
Once I clicked the link, it gave me two documents that Facebook friends had “readcast” or commented on. I must admit that neither of them looked particularly interesting but maybe that was just bad luck. It would be great if I could tell Scribd which Facebook friends I would like to see content from, or somehow vote content up or down in other ways. Maybe this functionality exists but I couldn’t see it.
I don’t have a problem with adoptions of Instant Personalization showing information that has already been made public by the user. However, I do find it a bit creepy that the list of who I’m friends with in Facebook is public. This seems to be compulsory – it’s basically something I agree to as a pre-condition of using Facebook but I don’t really like it. Anyone else feel the same way?
Recently movie review site Rotten Tomatoes adopted Instant Personalization. It didn’t show any of my friends’ names until I had authorized the connection – though I know that they could have done so if they wanted to. The Rotten Tomatoes implementation has the same data as SCRIBD but just chose to display it differently. I guess transparency is good so that people are more aware of what information is public already.