Facebook Pushes Ahead With Instant Personalization

Facebook today is rolling out its fourth instant personalization partner, and the only one since the initial launch in April. The program was highly controversial, because it customizes a user’s experience of a partner site with his or her Facebook information before the user has agreed to opt in. The new partner today, movie reviews site Rotten Tomatoes, will automatically show users which movies their friends have “liked” across the web using Facebook tools.

The implementation of instant personalization is only slightly different from the way the program rolled out with Yelp, Pandora and Microsoft’s (s MSFT) Docs.com. Facebook spokesperson David Swain said the Rotten Tomatoes design would make it “more obvious that Facebook is powering the experience” — in an effort to assure that users aren’t weirded out by seeing their friends’ names pop up even if they’ve never been to Rotten Tomatoes before, or linked Rotten Tomatoes to their Facebook account. As part of Facebook’s privacy settings tweaks in May, the company made the option to completely opt out of instant personalization more obvious.

A movie site makes sense as a personalization partner, Swain said, because it’s “a vertical that is social in the real world.” In addition to reviews and music, he said to expect future partners in spaces like food and travel.

As for why Facebook didn’t launch with new partners sooner, Swain said, “We want to get the program right because we really think it’s pretty exciting.” He said Facebook will continue to be closely involved with each instant personalization integration before it goes live, but that new ones will be coming out more rapidly. Though instant personalization is a more formal partnership than just using Facebook’s APIs, partners do not share revenue, Swain said.

Though personally I’ve seen more friends liking movies through IMDB than Rotten Tomatoes, this partnership revives an old connection between Facebook and Flixster, which¬†bought Rotten Tomatoes in January. Flixster founder and CEO Joe Greenstein was an early successful Facebook platform app creator.

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