Comments splinter again, thanks to Facebook

So, Facebook is launching a new feature that allows users to comment on their friends’ “mini-feed” items, according to several sources — including the press release that arrived in my email box this morning. As Caroline explains at CNet, the mini-feed is what updates your friends when you change your status, upload a new profile pic, share photos and so on. In other words, they will now be able to say things like “LOL!” or “dude, that shirt is so money!” right in the feed, instead of having to go to your wall or super-poke you or whatever. Whether this is a revolutionary development kind of depends on your point of view.

Many people, including Adam Ostrow at Mashable, have mentioned that this commenting feature is a lot like one of the main features of FriendFeed.com, a “lifestream” aggregator which lets you pull together all of the activities you are involved in — RSS feeds, photos posted to Flickr, items shared with Google Reader, and so on — as well as those your friends are engaged in (my feed is here). The ability to “like” an item by giving it a thumbs up and the ability to comment on items are two of the appealing features of the service, which was founded by former Googler staffers Paul Buchheit (one of the original developers of Gmail) and Bret Taylor. A debate about whether the Facebook feature is a direct rip-off or not is taking place on — of course — FriendFeed itself.

One problem with this new feature, I think, is that it means comments wind up on yet another site, increasing the comment-fragmentation problem (which I’ve written about before). Of course, this plays into Facebook’s desire to be a portal, and the need to keep you coming back as often as possible — and the inability to extract those comments on your items or aggregate them somewhere else, since Facebook is more than happy to allow you to import data from others, but not so crazy about data going the other way (I have a plugin here that pulls comments from FriendFeed, thanks to the work of developer Glenn Slaven and FriendFeed’s enlightened approach to open APIs).

Still to come: Expect lots of posts about how Facebook is “killing FriendFeed” which “killed Twitter” which “killed Facebook’s status feature” and so on. Paul Buchheit, for what it’s worth, tells ZDNet that he and the rest of the FriendFeed team aren’t killers.

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