Facebook Takes Its “Like” Button Across The Web

Facebook is making it even easier for users to take their Facebook identity with them as they navigate the web. At its developers conference this morning, the company announced a set of “social plugins” that, among other capabilities, let visitors to third-party websites indicate to their Facebook contacts that they “Like” a specific piece of content, without having to log-in to the third-party site (The user does, of course, have to be logged in to Facebook). To add the plugin, websites only have to add one line of code.

The “Like” button is just the start. Once a site has added that plugin, it can also add others so that visitors can see what their Facebook friends have “Liked” and also get content suggestions.

One way to think about it is that it’s essentially a big upgrade to Facebook Connect — which lets users log-in to third party sites with their Facebook IDs so that they can easily share content. And, indeed, Facebook says it will no longer be using the Connect branding.

During his keynote, CEO Mark Zuckerberg showed how a first-time visitor to CNN.com could now immediately see what his or her Facebook friends were suggesting to read (i.e. had marked as “Like”) — and could also “Like” content themselves via a prominent module on the upper right-hand corner of the site. “I haven’t connected to CNN. I haven’t logged in. CNN has used our social plugins and Facebook serves the content to me,” he said.

Another related example: A first-time visitor to Pandora, who is also logged in to Facebook, would hear songs from bands they have “Liked” around the web without having to enter any preferences themselves. Zuckerberg said he expects one billion pieces of content to be “Liked” during the first 24 hours after the plugin goes live later today.

One other highlight from the keynote: Zuckerberg said that Facebook now has 400 million users — up from 350 million in December — who were sharing a staggering 25 billion “things” a month before the “Like” button’s roll-out.

The conference is ongoing; watch it here.