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Building User Intent into the Open Graph

August 13, 2012ByNaitik Shah

We created the Open Graph to help people express who they are through the apps they use. Over the past few months, we've introduced avarietyofimprovements to make the experience match user expectations and reflect how people use apps. Today, we're introducing explicitly shared actions to let apps notify us when a user wants to prominently share something like they would through posting it directly on Facebook.

Developers can add a new, optional explicitly shared parameter to signal which actions users want to prominently share on Facebook. For example, when people choose to share a check-in using foursquare or a photo via Instagram, they expect the content to appear as if they had posted it directly to Facebook.

We expect this change will drive more traffic to apps that people use to proactively share content to Facebook and result in no significant impact for all other types of apps. Explicitly shared actions are eligible to appear as stand-alone stories in news feed and they'll appear consistently on the left side of a person's timeline. All other activity will continue to appear in ticker, trending units and aggregations in news feed, and in recently activity and aggregations on timeline.

Example use cases
Explicitly shared content needs to be optional for users to post and have a clear Facebook sharing control that's visible in every instance of sharing (not separate in a settings area). Eligible explicitly shared actions include:

  • Sharing a user generated photo
  • Sharing your location (checkins, routes, etc.)
  • User generated messages

The following types of actions should not generally be labeled as explicitly shared:

  • Actions that occur naturally in an app, such as listening, reading, watching, and using
  • Lightweight social buttons, such as liking, loving, favoriting, and saving
  • Low-signal activities that happen bulk, such as following, friending, and passing
  • Functional parts of game play, such as playing, earning, building, and gifting

To create an explicitly shared action, simply pass the parameter: fb:explicitly_shared = true when you POST your action to Facebook:

curl -X POST \
    -F "access_token=`valid access_token`"  \
    -F "recipe=" \
    -F "fb:explicitly_shared=true"

There may be scenarios when a specific action is sometimes explicitly shared and other it's not. For example, someone could sync all the recipes they want to cook their timeline, but sometimes also add comments to the recipes they want to cook. You should only include this new parameter in the instances where a user clearly intends to share their activity on Facebook.

To enable this functionality, turn on the “Explicitly Shared OG Stories" migration in the Advanced Settings area of the App Dashboard. You have until Wednesday, November 14th to enable this migration, after which time it will be enabled for all apps. Learn more about implementing explicitly shared actions here.

If you choose to use the explicitly shared parameter, you will need to resubmit each eligible action. We will review apps to ensure that they're properly using the feature as outlined above. We're continuing to make our approval process more efficient, but please expect reviews to initially take up to 7 business days for feedback.

We're excited to make the Open Graph experience better match users' expectations and give greater distribution to the activity that people explicitly choose to share.