Openness. It has easily been the greatest theme of Facebook's nearly seven-year rise to global dominance as one of the Web's main interfaces. Zuckerberg and Co's passionate crusade to make Internet citizens be themselves out in the open has been incremental, relentless, and often shown disregard for the cries of even its own five billion + members. So today's news that Facebook is planning to get into the commenting business for third parties likely means one thing: First-mongers, trolls, and Internet thugs: You can run, but you cannot hide.
As CNET and others have reported, Facebook is saying it wants to power the commenting systems of digital publishers and blogs around the Web. This would be a further step beyond other third-party tools the company has already offered, such as those allowing the association of comments with Facebook profiles and the use of "Like" and "Share on Facebook" buttons. These features have quickly become nearly ubiquitous on the Internet, and the new commenting engine could eventually be similarly popular.
Other companies, such as Disqus and Echo, have had success offering their own third party comment systems by streamlining maintenance issues that once represented a notorious time-suck for digital publishers. But Facebook is Facebook, and if they get on the playing field, the momentum of their brand and the size of their userbase will no doubt shake things up. Their system, while still somewhat thin on details, is likely to further bridge the gap between usernames and real world identities, with the argument being that transparency improves the quality of discourse.
And the company will be one move closer to establishing what could be its legacy: supplanting anonymity as the default mode of the Internet.
Broadband bandits beware.