Liveblogging Facebook's Open Door Press Conference

Facebook is holding a two-hour press conference today to go over new products and the direction of the social network. Both Jason and Mike are there live, and we will be updating this post as information comes out. Here are our notes:

We’re here at the Facebook press event. This is a two hour event. Facebook hasn’t pre-briefed the press on what they are announcing. All we know at this point is that at least one new product is being launched at noon PST today

Mark Zuckerberg just took the stage.

He’s talking about FB as a platform to let users share more an dmore information across applications and devices. When we launched in 2004, he says, people weren’t sharing much online. FB provided the basics, picture, name, etc.

1:14 PM: FB now has 175m users sharing hundreds of millions of pieces of data a day. more than a billion photos a month are being uploaded

Talking about the importance of Streams. Profile redesign last year was first step.

1:15 PM: Twitter connects with people quickly. myspace has done really with in terms of bands having done well.. we admire what they’re doing

Complimenting Twitter and MySpace for what they’ve accomplished.

“We’re not exactly sure where this is going to end up”

1:16 PM: Mark is introducing Chris Cox, the Director of Product Development

1:17 PM: Cox built the original news feed product

1:20 PM: Cox is describing the news feed as a personalized newspaper for everyone, based on what’s going on with their friends.

“The message of any media or technology is its change of scale or pace” Marshall McLuhan

“He talked about how electronic media was going to change what print media had created. No matter where you went in the world, the connection would be immediate.”

The thought of this idea is what is exciting to me.

1:25 PM: original Facebook was basically an address book. Could see who was in your classes, who else was in your dorm

In 2006, started to focus the profile on what was going on. People could leave status messages. We added Status and News Feed.

1:28 PM: 2007 – Built Platform. Applications were the things putting content into the stream of information that you’re seeing today.

2008 – Made the wall the most prominent thing. You’re not here to really learn about me (favorite books), you’re here to see what’s going on

Saw after we made that change that engagement went up, it was a good thing.

1:29 PM: 2009: people want to talk about elections and also talk about what they’re eating for breakfast.

This morning it the site was translated into Hebrew and Arabic. It is on its side, really beautiful, you should check it out.

Fundamental problem: How do I give my message to the people who care in real time?

Picture of graph showing users

We come from a world where we were very focused on privacy, tight knit groups of people we call friends. Where we’re going, there are lots of different needs, and that’s what we’re working on today

Discussing the different ways we interact with the people we know (Friends, Family, Coworkers, the general public). Whether it is my Mom talking to me and my brothers and sisters, or Anderson Cooper talking to hundreds of thousands of people. The New York Times is not a person, but it is an organization with one voice.

The graph is the connection between people and their audience, the stream is the flow of voices in real time, Connect is how we get that out to the Web.

1:35 PM: Cox is discussing the way that FB thinks about how sharing works.

It starts with the social graph, connecting voices to their audience. This moves to the stream, and making sure it is consolidated and simple. Finally, FB connect brings sharing in anywhere from the web.

first announcement: Pages and Profiles are now the same thing

The Mike Arrington feature! unlimited number of people can follow your activities.

“We’re calling this the Arrington feature”… As many people as want to can see his profile. NO MORE LIMIT ON 5k friends.

Launch partners for Pages: CNN, U2, Barack Obama. oprah winfrey, stanford university, lance armstrong

“The stream is what is happening. We think it is as core as the graph. The graph is the connections, the stream is what is happening.”

27 total partners today

We’re announcing a new homepage today. Users can now sort through the items in their feed using friend lists, so you can weed through the content you actually want to see in your news feed. At the right side there will be a Highlights widget, featuring items from the friends you interact with most.

New Homepage:

We’re now moving to Q&A
Cox: The limit today with profiles is that you can’t reach a large audience with profiles. You can’t have more than 5,000 people receiving your updates. So now you can set your privacy settings so you still have that intimate connection, but you can distribute your content to far more people who aren’t friends. It sounds like a Twitteresque follow system, in that it’s one-sided.

The new News Feed is more real time. The old feed was on a schedule, the new one is things as they hapen, presented with a bunch of controls so you can filter down to what you want.

Mark: What we’re talking about today, is that there’s a philosophical change in that we want to converge these public figures (which are one way) and friends (two way connections). People asking for 5,000 friends, don’t necessarily want to connect with 5,000 people, they want to let 5,000 people connect with them. Pages are now similar to user profiles, but profiles are similar to pages in that people can have 1 sided connections.

We’re seeing an interesting trend that a lot of people are open to sharing information to specific people. A big part of what we’re doing is sharing information in a safe way.

Q: Are you concerned that fans will be upset with the new changes?

This isn’t the last time we’re going to be changing things. Need to continue to adapt. We always track the stats. When we have a large amount of feedback (even if it is negative), we can see if the sharing metrics are going up, and at the end of the day that’s what keeps people engaged on the site.

We’re posting today the schematic of the new homepage, give them a chance to leave feedback.

Q: Are you going to add location based services?
Those are going to be important things in the future. We’re at a place today where we think things are increasing in speed, in the future the LBS stuff will be even more possible.
We’ve been laying the ground work for lots of rapid changes in the future. Laying technical groundwork, we’re able to rapidly change things on a massive scale. I think you’ll see is a directionality of being able to serve both public and closed services. We’re going to be rolling out a lot more services through the rest of the year.

Q: Are you guys going to still be doing lots of importing.
Importing was never a very large part of the activity, but it’s important for a lot of people. I think Connect is a much bigger part of the strategy, any website can add one button to Connect, and the user will bring all of their information on Facebook. We rolled out this comment widget with UI similar to Publisher. Want to make it so people can share these things back with Facebook. At the end of the day we’re just one website, trying to extend ourselves around the web.

50% or more of our users come back to the site every day.