“Frictionless sharing,” the Facebook Open Graph mechanism which some news sites and video apps have poorly used to boost their own virality at users’ expense, has been one of the more controversial changes Facebook has made in recent months. Social news readers, for example, broadcast the articles you read to your Facebook friends, and led to embarrassment as users caught themselves auto-sharing content they would rather not admit to. The experience was bad enough that, this May, Facebook finally cracked down on auto-sharing apps by implementing a 10-second rule before sharing took place.
Now, a company called Janrain is offering an alternative to Facebook’s own implementation of auto-sharing. Built on top of Facebook’s Open Graph technology, Janrain’s one-click sharing mechanism offers users more control over their sharing behaviors. And one of the first companies to adopt the tool is TMZ – a site no one wants to be busted auto-sharing content from.
The Oregon-based startup Janrain is best known for leading development on the open, federated identity technology known as OpenID. Last summer, the company raised $15.5 million in funding to continue work on its social software solutions, which includes a social login tool inspired by its work on OpenID.
With Janrain’s new social sharing tool for publishers, users can toggle auto-sharing on or off at any time, and when it’s on, each story they read will also feature a countdown timer which indicates how many more seconds they have before the story is auto-shared to Facebook. Brands can choose how long the delay for that timer should be, too. The idea of a delay is not remarkably different from Facebook’s own solution, but the visible timer is. It allows for a more transparent relationship between publisher and reader, which could then, in turn, mean fewer readers end up feeling like they were “tricked” into sharing content. When auto-sharing is switched off, readers still have the option of sharing stories individually, much like how the Facebook share buttons operate today.
In addition, once the story has been posted to a user’s Facebook timeline, any user who then clicks the link is taken directly to the website itself – not to some sort of social news reading app on Facebook, which was one of the other complaints users had about the way frictionless sharing was implemented on Facebook. Friends clicking the link offered by Janrain’s solution aren’t opted into auto-sharing, they don’t have to grant an app permissions, and they don’t have to view an ad – they’re just taken to the article.
While Janrain’s social login solution is now used by over 350,000 websites, this auto-sharing tool is new, and there’s not a large lineup of launch partners at this time. But one notable implementation will be found on celeb gossip site TMZ. That makes sense, because arguably that’s exactly the sort of site where users don’t necessarily want to auto-share content. The auto-sharing tool is available now as a feature in Janrain’s User Management Platform (JUMP), which includes products for social login, profile data storage, registration, and single sign-on.
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