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What you should know about Facebook's changes

By John Sutter, CNN
Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg explains the big leap forward Facebook is making in its Internet presence.
Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg explains the big leap forward Facebook is making in its Internet presence.
  • Before, "like" buttons only were on; Now, they'll be all over the place
  • Web sites will be able to add new Facebook toolbars to the bottom of their pages
  • New features will show whether or not you enter a user name and password on a site
  • Facebookers, tell us what you think: As you try new features, add comments below

San Francisco, California (CNN) -- Facebook announced some changes on Wednesday that are intended to make the Internet more social. Essentially, Facebook is stretching out into the rest of the Web.

But what do these new features actually mean for everyday people who use the Internet?

And when you see these Facebook-looking features popping up on other Web sites, how do you know what to do with them?

Here's a quick guide, based on a comments by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's founder and CEO, and interviews with developers who create applications for the massively popular social-networking site:

"Like" buttons

Buttons with the word "like" and a thumbs-up icon on them are going to start popping up all over the Internet. By clicking one, you indicate that you find the content interesting, relevant or helpful. Basically, you would recommend it to a friend.

Before Wednesday, "like" buttons only were on Facebook. Now, they'll be all over the place, including on this site. When you click one, you post the item -- whether it's a blog post, photo or celebrity web page -- to your Facebook news feed.

Read about how the feature will work on

The "liked" content may also become part of your Facebook profile, and visible to your friends or to everyone, depending on how your privacy settings are configured on Facebook.

Hey Facebook: What about a 'dislike' button?

Friends' faces

A consequence of these "like" buttons will be that your friends' Facebook profile photos will start showing up all over the web.

If you see your friends' smiling faces online, it's an indication that they have clicked a "like" button on the Web site you're visiting. In a way, they're recommending it to you.

Facebook users will be able to share interests across the web

Facebook says these recommendations and social connections are the basis for the future of the Internet. Boring old hyperlinks are becoming something of the past, the company says.

No log-ins

These new Facebook features will show up regardless of whether or not you have entered a user name and password on a particular Web site.

So, say you go to Pandora to listen to music. If you have logged in to Facebook recently, you won't have to do anything on Pandora to see suggestions about music. Recommendations from your Facebook friends will automatically show up.


Facebook announced new toolbars that other Web sites can add to the bottom of their pages. The toolbar lets you "like" a particular web page or item, and gives you information about what your friends think of the page you're viewing.

You can also chat with friends who are currently logged in to Facebook without visiting the site.

Privacy issues

Some Internet users might worry about the fact that their Facebook profile photos, as well as their likes and dislikes, are going to show up all over the web.

At least for now, a person's likes and dislikes are only as visible as they want them to be.

But, if nothing else, that means you should probably double-check your privacy settings.

Go to Facebook, look at the top right of the screen and click the "Account" tab. Choose "Privacy settings" and then navigate to "Profile information."

Check the "likes and interests" setting. If you have that set to "everyone," then anyone on the Internet could see which Web pages you have liked.

Some users might only want their Facebook friends to see that information.

Facebook everywhere

One overarching thing you might notice is that Facebook is going to be all over the Internet with these changes.

This puts the social network at odds with Google, which also is trying to organize the world's information by interests and preferences.

Another potential side effect: The web you see is the web your friends like.

Without some effort, you might end up browsing based on your friends preferences, rather than exploring new territory. Your activity can influence them, too.

As you navigate the web and start to play around with these new features, let us know what you think by posting a comment below.

Do you think this will make Facebook the dominant player on the Internet? Do you find the features and recommendations useful, or do they clutter up your online experience?