Given the previous post about Match supposedly wanting to build a Badoo clone on Facebook, I decided to poke around the raw html that the Match web servers send to web browsers, which in turn create the Match web pages we look at millions of times every day around the world.
I learned a few things.
To begin with, all Match profiles are Facebook “objects”. Facebook considers just about everything it touches as an “object” and gives it its own unique identifier (like an IP address or social security number, everyone has a unique one. In fact, This blog has been an Object that Facebook knows about for a long time.
Making everything an object makes sense, because as Facebook evolves from a destination to a distributed platform touching everything on the net, they want to be able to reach out and touch, search, share, read and modify as much of the content on the Internet as possible, including my likes, friends, wall posts, apps, etc.
To show you how easy it is to look at people’s personal information on Facebook, check out these examples. Even if you do it with a browser that is not currently logged into Facebook, you can retrieve a fair amount of information about someone or a Fan page.
If you click https://graph.facebook.com/relaxedguy you will see basic information that Facebook knows about me.
“name”: “David Evans”,
My Facebook profile photo http://graph.facebook.com/relaxedguy/picture.
Coca-Cola’s Facebook page https://graph.facebook.com/cocacola.
“products”: “Coca-Cola is the most popular and biggest-selling soft drink in history, as well as the best-known product in the world.\n\nCreated in Atlanta, Georgia, by Dr. John S. Pemberton, Coca-Cola was first offered as a fountain beverage by mixing Coca-Cola syrup with carbonated water….”
Enough generic examples, lets’ get to the good stuff.
Primer: The “og:somedata” stuff seen below is what site owners put invisibly at the top of each page they want Facebook to consider an object. For this blog, at the moment its the same details for all pages. For Match, each person is an Object that has special attributes like username, photo url and a few other things.
One of my Match usernames.
<meta property='og:title' content='agood1foru2know'/>
My Match profile web address and the super-special unique identifier.
<meta property='og:type' content='match:person'/>
My full profile address (Match login required)
<meta property='og:url' content='http://www.match.com/profile/showprofile.aspx/?uid=B88an16AMuFBZCSkMRWw5A==&handle=agood1foru2know&tp=ms&trackingID=526684&bannerID=747303' />
Facebook application ID number. This doesn’t look like a regular number, its way too long. Can anyone explain what it is, like a placeholder?
<meta property='fb:app_id' content='89318d7e8d124c0eb6dc64adcbb14c60'/>
Beginning of one of my profiles, edited down for length.
<meta property='og:description' content="What's up summertime singles? Meet a left-of-center ENFP, cynical and funny optimist, pretty charismatic or so I'm told." />
I’m not sharp enough to decode the possible relationship between the “uid” and the picture url, but the big issue is that over 100 million Match user photos are freely available for anyone to download. (20 million members, average of 5 photos per member = 100 million give or take).
To be fair, Match could be testing this with 500 people and photos aren’t linked to personal information (although embedding meta-data in photos via steganography and other means is done all the time on certain sites).
Also seen in the raw html that comprised Match profiles is the following text:
Upload a Photo & Unlock Hers
Her Photos are Unlocked!
This looks like a Facebook call-to-action. I have to upload a photo to see another person’s photos. Or its another one of those Match features that I never pay attention to, we’ll know soon enough.
What if Match is looking to expose profiles on Facebook as a way to drive Facebook users to Match? This is sort of what they did on a trial basis with Are You Interested a few years ago. But I have a feeling that Match is going for something much bigger. Perhaps even to be the de facto dating site for Facebook.
The dating industry has been discussing this for years, but the fact that Match and Facebook could be partnering on something so big (the Dating tab at the top of your FB profile), well it just boggles the mind. A dating site with hundreds of millions of people on it.
Of course, perhaps the Facebook object code has been there for many moons and I’m way off-base, I certainly don’t view the html source of every dating site I come across (but maybe we all should).
We we do know is that everything is an object to Facebook and that Match has made it so that all 20 million members (arguable) and their photos are objects that Facebook knows about and can act upon. I’m not entirely clear how the bi-directionality of such a situation would pan out, but I can’t wait for the moment a Match-branded Facebook application asks for my permission to access my personal data and write on my wall while being tied to my Match profile.
Put it this way, its either going to rock right out of the gate or risks being another Little Black Book, Match’s first Facebook app. Last time I checked it had 19 active users. But that was years ago, and Match has gotten much smarter about the power of social.
What are the implications of having tighter integration between Match and Facebook? Perhaps such actions as changes to your Match profile, a new photo, a search completed, an email sent, a wink sent, a profile blocked, could end up on your Facebook wall, or at least tracked and your actions used to personalize, drive traffic, attract eyeballs, etc.These actions have showed up on the Match member home page mini-wall for two years now.
Perhaps mini versions of Match profiles will show up in Facebook search. That would actually be pretty cool. Match is well on its way to extending the “wall” concept of publishing updates such as “Someone you have expressed interest in or we think you would like has updated/uploaded/done some other action” to the entire Internet, starting with Facebook.
Fascinating. What else will Match do with Facebook-tagged profiles? Usually you do something somewhere else and your actions show up on your wall. How will your Facebook and Match actions interact and to what benefit?
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One could theoretically create a Facebook app that just like any Facebook app, asks for permission to read certain data, enabling the harvesting of minimal information from potentially millions of Match profiles. I say potentially because I don’t see the Facebook object markup on any other Match site that I checked. I’ve spent enough time diving into the Facebook Social Graph to know that there are a lot of interesting ways to retrieve and manipulate data, and thats just the public Facebook API’s. One wonders what third-party developers could do with this information.
Ok, enough speculation. I need to ponder this some more. Regardless of Match’s intentions in regards to Facebook integration, its a great mental exercise to brainstorm the possibilities.
Hoping you will share your thoughts on the subject.