Facebook Expands Media Sharing on Timeline – Too Much Content, Not Enough Social?

One of the intriguing aspects of Facebook Timeline, ever since the initial launch last September, is how it highlights the media you consume. Music you listen to, videos you watch, newspapers and books you read, and (more recently) images you “pin” on Pinterest. Facebook termed the concept frictionless sharing, because it allows you to automatically share with your friends the media you consume.

Earlier this month, Facebook added new third party apps to its platform. Now, a change to Timeline itself has made media sharing even more prominent. The right-hand half of my Timeline is now dominated by my favorite third party media apps: Rdio, Pinterest, Goodreads. The question is: does this make Timeline too focused on media content, over socializing with friends?

This may be a limited user test by Facebook, so here are some screenshots of what I’m seeing on the right-hand side of my Timeline. It expands the sections for Rdio, Pinterest and Goodreads (the three media sharing apps I use the most on Facebook). It uses the extra room to add images – of albums, books, Pinterest imagery – thus making my Timeline more colorful.

Those are just two of my third party apps, Rdio and Pinterest, but it now takes up a significant amount of real estate on my Facebook Timeline.

Is More Media Sharing a Good or Bad Thing?

Not all of you are fans of MEdia sharing on Facebook. Judging by user reactions to Timeline over the past 6 months, many of you hate the firehose stream of (for example) songs from Rdio, Spotify and MOG appearing in your News Feeds. Although to be fair to Facebook, you’re much more likely to see media sharing in the News Ticker, the constantly scrolling little ticker in the top-right of Facebook (if you have the sidebar open). Facebook does a pretty good job making sure your News Feed isn’t clogged up with this “frictionless sharing.”

That’s why, in my view, it’s a good move by Facebook to expand the media sharing areas in your Timeline. You may not be interested in the majority of media sharing that happens among your friends, but if a new song or book does catch your eye in the News Ticker, then you can click on that person’s Timeline to find out more. For example, you may happen to be a Sharon Van Etten fan and see that I’m listening to the new album. If you check my Timeline, her new album is right there for you to click on and listen to it yourself. And you can start up a conversation with me about our shared love of Van Etten. Or check out some of the other music I listen to, as that may be a match for you too.

In the battle for the Interest Graph (essentially a graph of what you like) between Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, Facebook has one huge advantage. It has third party content deeply embedded in its platform. Google+ is actually better in many ways for finding and tracking media content, but it has no advanced API and therefore third parties cannot integrate into Google+ like they can on Facebook. And Twitter is too ephemeral. Media sharing is of the moment in Twitter and it’s not properly archived – like on a Timeline.

With expanded media sharing on its Timeline, Facebook once again trumps Google+ and Twitter as the place to discover and share media.

What do you think about the enhanced media sharing on Timeline? Do you think it’s a good thing, or is it making it even more difficult for you to do “real” social things – like have conversations and post images of cats?

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