There’s been ample talk lately about the big names in social networking and their effects on the startup scene. Between the never-ending acquisition and acquihire cycle and API wars, there’s plenty to suggest that companies like Twitter, Facebook, Google, and so on and so forth are doing more to hurt new tech businesses than help them.
While there’s certainly merit to that argument (I for one, obviously think so), you can’t ignore the developer-friendly push Facebook is hell-bent on making with its Open Graph. Today, the platform introduced the addition of mention tagging, so that outside developers can loop in the functionality to enable users to tag Facebook friends in these third party app posts.
For instance, when you take a photo with Instagram, you can’t tag your Facebook friend in it even though you’re sending the image to the site – but should this feature become integrated (and given Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram and their unique Open Graph integration, you have to imagine it will), you’d be able to. Facebook offers Foursquare up as an example, explaining that your check-ins can now pull in and tag your Facebook friends in them.
Facebook clarifies that mention tagging is different than action tagging — any apps you use to describe doing something with friends (running, hiking, eating, cooking, watching a movie, etc) will not be privy to the new feature.
“If you choose to implement mention tagging, you’ll need to provide users with a tokenizer or some other way to know that they can reference their friends,” reads the announcement. Developers will also need to resubmit their actions and approval requests for user messages and tags as well as provide information on how they want to enable the feature in their app.
Users should expect quite a few apps to get on board with this sooner rather than later — according to Facebook engineer Matt Kelly, it should be showing up in the WordPress plugin soon. It’s a great way to bring yet more attention to your own app and an opportunity to get some eyes that use Facebook (the general population) but not necessarily smaller social platforms (which, in comparison, they all are) looking at what their friends are tagging them in.
Your current privacy settings will carry over, a Facebook rep tells me. So whatever you currently have set up regarding who can tag you and who can see it will also apply for the new feature. The App Settings page will also show you more about what information an individual app is using and showing.