Why the Foreign Office is dabbling with Facebook Connect

As the post-election smoke clears, we’re launching a small experiment on the Foreign Office Global Conversations blogs. On a number of blogs (for now, mostly the US ones, such as this one), we’re adding the comment functionality of Facebook Connect. So for now, we have different mechanics on different blogs, but this is by way of an experiment.

We’re not sold on the old way of commenting, especially the rather odd system of having to do basic maths before you can say anything, so we’re looking for low-cost ways to do it. We’re trying Facebook Connect for a number of reasons:

400 million people are already using Facebook, they’re logged in without any concerns about sharing data with us and can add their comments to our blogs and to their own Facebook profiles quickly and intuitively.

The fact that their responses get posted on their own profiles is a useful way of amplifying our posts. We think that there is some good content on the Foreign Office blogs (we don’t edit the contributors, which helps), and we would, frankly, like a bigger audience for them. If people are made curious by user responses on Facebook, then they may get to see the content we’re producing.

Those who comment on the blogs will be using their real identity (or without getting into the philosophy of the solipsistic web a version of their identity). The theory is that if people are using their own profiles, they will behave reasonably responsibly in responding to policy-led blogs that they might disagree with (that’s not a challenge, by the way). So we may get some mature debate on the blogs.

Its still quite simple to post a comment without using Facebook, but beware – if you’re currently logged in, then your comment will be posted via Facebook anyway, unless you log out. We’re working on that.

Effectively, this is a little experiment, to make the blogs more accessible. I’d be interested to hear any thoughts. Post them below, in whatever way you prefer. If the experiment works, we’ll bring all the blogs into the same format. Unless you tell us differently.

And if you do tell us differently, tell us here. Or below. I can cope with either.

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True. I do think it lowers the barrier to entry.

Did you have to re-do terms of service? Or kept as is since a short experiment?

Jimmy Leach

Kept as is for now. If we go for it, we’ll look at some of the wider aspects, but for the moment, its just to see if we get more/better/more attributable engagement.