Home Facebook’s Likable Little Comments Could Be a Big Deal

Facebook’s Likable Little Comments Could Be a Big Deal

Facebook just announced a new feature that probably should have been obvious for a long time: the ability to “like” comments that people post on Newsfeed items. Users were always able to signal text-free approval of shared items, but now they will be able to offer quick support for subsequent parts of the conversations they see as well.

This isn’t threaded comments and it’s not an unlike button – there are many other things that Facebook could do for commenting – but it’s a smart little move that users will find easy to understand and that could lead to some interesting new capabilities for developers.

Imagine the addition of “people whose comments you liked” as a metric by which to measure future content for prioritization or other analysis. There’s no indication that this stream of liked comments will be available to developers today (no update has been posted yet to the developers blog) but it seems safe to assume that liking peoples’ comments in a thread will at least influence the determination of who is displayed in a user’s all-important News Feed of high-priority contacts.

Any time a social interaction can be instrumented – turned into data and made measurable – that opens up new opportunities for cross referencing it with other data points, for illuminating more connections between people. Imagine being able to see who from your high school gets the most comments liked, or to see a stream of books liked by people whose comments you liked more than once. There are many possibilities.

The fact that this data point is so easy for users to contribute to and understand makes it all the more a win.

Facebook’s support for the Activity Streams protocol for social activity data, including the proposed standardized way to mark up “likes,” bodes well for the larger ecosystem that would analyze these activities across other websites. Facebook says that few developers are using its Activity Streams feed today, but that it hopes that will change with the introduction of a JSON version.

The new Likes on comments will roll out over the next few days and will be subject to the same privacy settings as Likes on shared items.

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