Coming Soon: Facebook’s Automatic “Read” Button

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A few days ago, leading up to f8, we noted that we heard from a source that Facebook would soon be expanding their buttons offerings beyond the Like button. Specifically, we heard that “Read” “Listen” and “Watch” buttons were coming. But today during the f8 keynote, Facebook didn’t have anything to say about those. But that doesn’t mean they’re not coming. Actually, they are.

I had the chance to sit down with Facebook CTO Bret Taylor after the keynote and he told me that a new “Read” button would be coming within the next couple of weeks. But it works a bit differently than you might imagine.

Unlike the Like button which gives you a way to explicitly share individual pieces of content, this Read plug-in (and presumably, Watch, Listen, etc, plugins) would allow third-parties to add a single button to their site to enable some of the automatic actions Facebook unveiled today.

For example, if we add the Read plugin on TechCrunch, there will be a button on the page that when clicked by a user, allows them to automatically let their social graph know when they’re reading TechCrunch. In the new Ticker area of Facebook, it would says “MG is reading TechCrunch” when I visited TechCrunch.

To be clear, this button will be totally opt-in for users. And the button will also have “pause” and “undo” capabilities if a user decides they actually don’t want to share their activity automatically, Taylor said.

And the regular old Like button will continue to exist for users who still want to share specific pieces of content to Facebook.