Facebook is NOT that open

Dave Winer and Michael Arrington are making a big deal today about Facebook RSS feeds for friends’ status updates and posted items. While it’s true that these features are a step in the open direction, let’s all remember Facebook is really not very open.

For example Facebook does NOT provide feeds for many core features, including:

  1. My News Feed
  2. Friends’ Mini Feeds
  3. Friends’ Profile Updates
  4. Friends’ Updated Photos
  5. Groups Updates
  6. Events Updates

Additionally, Facebook does NOT provide export functions for data I have stored there:

  1. Friends/Contact List
  2. Photo Albums

So yes, while there are some open functions (particularly the Twitter-esque friends’ status updates feed), most data is still stuck in Facebook.

Update: Facebook’s Ari Steinberg points out in the comments that 1) a friends’ notes feed is also published, and 2) events are actually exportable. Thanks for the corrections, Ari!

So, a summary of Facebook’s “open” features:

  1. Friends’ Status Updates RSS
  2. Friends’ Notes RSS
  3. Friends’ Shared Items RSS
  4. Events Calendar Exporting
  5. My Notifications


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Leave a Reply

9 Responses to “Facebook is NOT that open”

  1. Facebook opening up — a little bit » mathewingram.com/work says:

    [...] How far it will go remains to be seen. Justin Smith at Inside Facebook notes that there are still lots of things that Facebook isn’t open about. facebook, feeds, RSS | Share This | Related [...]

  2. Ari says:

    for what it’s worth, we do publish Friends’ Notes – go to http://www.facebook.com/notes.php

    we also have an event calendar, go to http://www.facebook.com/events.php and click the “export” link at the top. you can also export individual events from the event pages.

    finally, as you know, we provide api functions to access a user’s friends list, photos, profile data, etc.

  3. Justin Smith says:

    Thanks Ari, duly noted!

  4. jez says:

    You can subscribe to other friends Status Updates. You have to sort of hack it.. As they mention

    If you would like to create an RSS Feed for your Facebook Notifications you can do so by going to your Inbox and selecting the Notifications tab. On the following page will be the option to “Subscribe to Notifications” on the right. After clicking “Your Notifications”, Facebook will generate an RSS Feed that you can save to your bookmarks folder and view in your browser. You will now have an auto-updating RSS Feed that alerts you of important things on Facebook involving your account (i.e. Wall posts, photo tags etc)…

    what I did was add that URL to a note and posted it to my wall. then friends could then add MY RSS feed to there reader.. the info is there BUT you have to ask your friends to provide it to you.

    To be fair, it is slightly stalky that you could get EVERYTHING they do.. imagaine if your boss got that info??

  5. Alex Gaynor says:

    I’m not sure whether the openness is a good thing, on the one hand it’s nice to be able to check those RSS feeds and see if anything’s new, on the other hand, RSS feeds are public, and I know there is some stuff I don’t want other people to have access to.

  6. » RSS feeds on Facebook | The Social Web | ZDNet.com says:

    [...] as Inside Facebook notes, the following RSS feeds are [...]

  7. » Facebook’s data feeds a data leak? | Lawgarithms | ZDNet.com says:

    [...] being able to zap it around the ‘Net to their hearts’ content. In fact, as Marc Canter Justin Smith point out, there’s considerable distance yet to be covered in Facebook’s opening up of [...]

  8. Zach Alexander says:

    And while there’s a feed for your “Posted items,” the links from that feed don’t go to the items themselves, but the Facebook page listing all the items. That really restricts what you can do, because if you republish the feed elsewhere, people have to (a) have a Facebook account and (b) log in for it to be useful.

  9. srinu says:

    I want to know how to use RSS feeds provided by Facebook in my application. Can any one help me?
    Thank you,

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