Facebook weaving in movies, music and news

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The Independent Tech

Facebook is packing movies, music, news and digital books into overhauled profile pages crafted to serve as online homes for members of the world's largest social network.

Major changes being rolled out in coming weeks will let members discover and share media content in real time while also artfully chronicling their lives.

Facebook on Thursday introduced a new class of "open graph" applications that let people discover and share music, movies, books and news as well as seemingly lightweight experiences like bicycle rides.

The applications will be integrated into overhauled "Timeline" profile pages that let people digitally map everything they've ever done.

"The heart of your Facebook experience, completely rethought from the ground up," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said while announcing the overhaul at Facebook's annual f8 developers conference.

"Timeline is the story of your life."

The new applications will let members automatically allow chosen friends to see their news feeds without needing to click "Like" or "Share."

Digital music service Spotify will let Facebook users see what friends are listening to at any moment in "Ticker" real-time feeds and then click to listen along. The same principle will apply to computer or mobile gadget applications and the feature will extend to digital books, news, and films.

"Now, you don't just have to 'Like' a book, you can read it," Spotify chief content officer Ken Parks told AFP. "You can connect to anything you want; it's simple but it is really powerful."

Zuckerberg demonstrated the Timeline by showing how his new profile page brought together everything from baby photos to pictures from his meeting with US President Barack Obama in April.

"The biggest challenge was to tell the story of your life in a single page," Zuckerberg said.

"What Timeline does is show all the recent activity and then, as you go back in time, it starts summarizing the things you've done in your life."

Facebook has no plans for an "app store" along the lines of the one run by Apple at its online iTunes shop. Instead, it will leave it to members to spread media sharing applications.

People will need to install third party applications to share snippets in Timeline profile pages, which will feature privacy controls. Applications will also require people to set data sharing "permissions" before they are used.

Partners ready with "open graph" applications include online streaming video services Netflix and Hulu.

Facebook board member and Netflix chief executive Reed Hasting said Facebook approached his company about a year ago with the idea of a tighter integration.

"We are super excited about all these great applications and all the social aspects of Netflix," Hasting said. "If Netflix does huge success in pioneering social TV, then many other firms will also become social."

Applications were also available to deliver and share news stories from sources including Yahoo!, the Washington Post and The Daily.

"I think it has the potential to not only rethink the way we read news, but rethink the way the whole news industry works," Zuckerberg said.

News Corp is releasing the Web app version of The Daily only in Facebook because it believes in the power of people reading stories recommended by friends, he added.

"Facebook is positioning itself as not just your social graph online, but your life online," said Forrester analyst Sean Corcoran.

"These changes not only help trump rival Google, but will open up new opportunities for marketers with new kinds of customer experiences, long-term engagement, advertising, and customer intelligence."

Facebook said it has worked with privacy groups while developing Timeline and that it has made it simple and clear to control what information gets shared with whom.

Facebook users this week had complained about a barrage of recent updates intended to make it easier to manage the torrents of updates from friends.

Palo Alto, California-based Facebook hit a new milestone this month with a half-billion people using the social network in a single day, according to Zuckerberg.

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