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April 21, 2010, 4:34 p.m.

Washington Post tool integrates Facebook with its site

In a move to create a more social experience on its site, The Washington Post has launched a new tool that integrates Facebook with how users navigate the site, allowing users to “like” any story and follow what their friends like or share on Facebook, all within the confines of the WaPo site.

The tool, called Network News, is similar in spirit to The New York Times’ TimesPeople, which lets Times users share what they are reading. But TimesPeople requires users to build up a TimesPeople-specific network to follow (albeit with a variety of contact-importing tools). The Post’s Network News skips that step by just locking into your pre-existing network from Facebook.

Here’s how it works: Go to any story on the Post’s site. (The tool is supposed to be sitewide, but it looks like it’s still loading on some sections.) At the end of the story, below an ad, there’s a box that says “Network News” with a Facebook logo. The “like” tool functions just like on Facebook, letting other WaPo Network News readers know you like the story. If you wish to post the story onto your Facebook page, a window pops up allowing you to do that, with or without a comment.

To see what your Facebook friends like, click the “View More Activity” link in the same box. A screen will show you what everyone likes and what just your friends like.

[I’d note that the use of the word “like,” when combined with a Post headline, can produce humorously unintended meanings. As in: “Laura McGann liked Pakistan holding thousands in indefinite detention, officials say.” Context! —Ed.]

As far as privacy, the Post passes that task over to Facebook. Here’s the disclaimer:

Network News is enabled through Facebook. Even when you’re on Network News at washingtonpost.com, you are essentially on Facebook. You can change what information you share on Network News by changing your privacy settings on Facebook.

Update: When I wrote this post, news hadn’t broken yet that Facebook has released a plugin to make it easier for users to share information across the Web. The Post’s Network News is a part of a larger Facebook effort to connect its users. This morning the Wall Street Journal “like” button was up an running, for example, as was CNN’s.

POSTED     April 21, 2010, 4:34 p.m.
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