Facebook has launched a Shared Activity plugin for developers as a hassle-free way for Facebook users to control what activities do and don’t automatically get published to Facebook from a third-party site.
Facebook’s Open Graph has been a feature that many startup apps are taking advantage of; it gives them frictionless sharing and access and publishing rights to Facebook users’ Timelines. Of course this means that the number of app-published status updates from your friends has hugely increased — and it’s not exactly a positive thing for the Facebook user experience. This may have been particularly evident when Spotify first integrated its platform with Facebook’s Open Graph, and you would consequently see a stream of status updates on your newsfeed displaying your friend’s (arguable) taste in music.
Now there’s something of a solution: Facebook users will be able to change the sharing settings within a developer’s site. What this means is that, granted that developers integrate the Shared Activity plugin into their application, you won’t necessarily have to resort to logging directly into Facebook to change a developer’s sharing settings.
For example when the plugin is integrated (and hopefully this will become a standard for all developers) you’ll be able to view a stream of the latest activities from, for example, AirBnB that you’ve published to Facebook. And from what we can discern, you’re offered the option to limit who sees the fact that you’ve added “Recently Renovated Beach Condo” to your AirBnB wish list. As for how comprehensive the plugin will be, it doesn’t appear to be different from what we’re used to already. You should be able to restrict viewers of your updates to your Friends, the public, yourself, or a custom set of Facebook connections.
One thing to note is that this isn’t a substitute for users to control their privacy settings. “The plugin does not control privacy settings within your app, and should be considered complementary,” Facebook wrote in the blog post. “This gives people another way to control their sharing on Facebook, in addition to the controls on Facebook in App Settings, inline on timeline, and Activity Log.”