Over the weekend, Facebook quietly changed the way that the “Like” button on third-party websites — including this one! — work. Whereas before, there was a pretty clear differentiation between the Facebook “Share” button as distinct from the Facebook “Like” button, clicking that thumbs-up on an article, video, or what have you now serves to add it to your Facebook feed. The “Share” button, for its part, has been removed from Facebook’s documentation and may soon be phased out entirely.
This may come as a surprise to people who habitually click the “like” button across the Internet, especially because what you see when you click it doesn’t change at all: There’s no new window that pops up confirming that you want to share the link you’re clicking on with all your friends, and no option to add commentary. Oh, and this is being applied retroactively to all links “liked” within a user’s recent activity.
What’s the point of this all? Inside Facebook speculates that it benefits the websites, but not necessarily the users:
Likes allow third-parties to publish future updates to a user, and therefore drive more traffic and create more lifetime value than Shares. This value lures additional third parties to implement Facebook’s social plugins, so it’s in Facebook’s interest to shift everyone from Share buttons to Like buttons.
Now that Facebook has given the Like button almost a year to prove its worth, third-parties would probably implement a Like button if they could no longer use the Share button, granting Facebook this improved placement.
Even if the “share” button is phased out, it will still possible to add a link with comments of your own, but it will require copy-pasting that link into your Facebook status.
(title pic via Business Insider)