Facebook feed opens, but only one way

According to a report at TechCrunch, sources say that Facebook is about to open up its news feed — but only in one direction, unfortunately. Mike Arrington says that he has confirmed the social network will soon allow users to add their own external events to the feed, so that they can effectively import Twitter posts (I refuse to call them “tweets”) and other activities that come from third-party sites. Whether your friends want to see all that is another question entirely, of course.

The big downside with the news (assuming it’s true) is that Facebook seems happy to incorporate external events into its news feed, but so far seems to have no intention of letting information flow the other way. As one commenter on TechCrunch’s post points out, that’s likely because the news feed is Facebook’s bread and butter, and it doesn’t want to endanger that. Being open is great, but apparently it only goes so far. I suppose the site may change its mind, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

As Mike notes, allowing you to add your own external events into the feed puts Facebook onto the same kind of playing field as FriendFeed, Spokeo and other “personal aggregators,” including one I hadn’t heard of called Iminta.com — as in “I’m inta” playing football. One interesting feature of the latter, according to Mike’s review, is that you can remove certain items from the feed, so if you Twitter too much — as a friend of mine often says I do — your friends can block just those.

While I haven’t used Iminta, I’ve experimented with Spokeo and I am an avid user of FriendFeed.com which was created by former Googler and Gmail developer Paul Buchheit (who also came up with the company’s “Don’t be evil” motto). It’s a very handy way of keeping track of things your friends are sharing with Google Reader or posting to Twitter or Flickr. You can give something a thumbs-up vote by clicking the “like” button, and you can also post comments on items. Will Facebook’s new feature make it harder for something like FriendFeed to get traction?

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