With all of the changes announced to Facebook in recent weeks, such as the new Timeline feature, among others, the internet world has been buzzing about what these changes mean, and whether they are beneficial or not. Regardless of your stance on the issue, another set of changes is altering the way music is listened to on Facebook.
At Facebook’s 2011 f8 Developers Conference on September 22, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced how music will be integrated into the new Facebook settings. Basically, instead of having a dedicated music player (a la MySpace), Facebook users will be able to publish what they are listening to on nearly any music streaming service, including Rhapsody, MOG, Soundcloud, Spotify and virtually any other service. After sharing what users are listening to, friends of the users can click on the links to listen to the songs, provided they also have subscriptions to the same service their friends are using (most of these services offer some form of free subscriptions). Zuckerberg said this is all a way to share more music among friends on Facebook.
Already these changes are bringing up old debates about just how private Facebook’s privacy settings are. Of course, the purpose of the new changes to Facebook is to allow users to more easily share what they are doing/listening to/etc., though it still somewhat remains to be seen just exactly how much is shared automatically, particularly when it comes to the new music changes.
Part of the controversy has been sparked because Facebook illustrated the new changes by using the Spotify streaming music service, and since the developer’s conference, Spotify has become even more associated with Facebook. On September 26, Spotify announced that all users would have to have a Facebook account to log in to the service, and it appears that any songs listened to on Spotify will now be published to a user’s Facebook page. Already user outcry, particularly from Facebook critics, has prompted a Spotify spokesperson to report that Spotify settings can be altered to not automatically publish what music is being listened to.
In what may be a related move, Spotify announced on the same day it announced its Facebook login requirement that it no longer requires invitations to join its service. So anyone, as long as they have a Facebook account, can now set up a Spotify account, and will receive a free six-month subscription in the process.
How these new changes will actually affect the way music is listened to on Facebook obviously remains to be seen. It is, however, a clear indicator that the general feeling by the designers of this system is that Facebook users want to share more information. And that information apparently includes the music we’re listening to on Facebook, as well.