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Facebook will host its F8 developer conference this Wednesday, announcing plans to spread its roots through the web.

Those plans include a web-wide “Like” button and a social toolbar to be placed at the bottom of your website, reports the NYTimes.

It’s all part of Facebook’s plan to follow you around the web, and perhaps avoid the same fate as MySpace.

The Starbucks of Social Networks?

Previous social networks, you’ll remember, were destinations. As soon as Friendster became slow and unreliable, an exodus to MySpace began. Once MySpace pages became bloated and unwieldy, the crowd hopped over to Facebook. Zuckerberg is well aware of the threat: If you build a destination site, users will hop over to the next cool hangout in no time at all.

That’s why Facebook longs to become a sturdy platform: The more businesses rely on Facebook, the less likely it is to fail. Zynga has already built a $1 billion-plus company using Facebook as a platform, and thousands of websites now use Facebook Connect for their login systems. The toolbar and web-wide “like” button are the next phase – by providing yet more distributed services, Facebook becomes invaluable. Credits, Connect, toolbars … these are all distributed plays that try to weave Facebook’s social graph throughout the fabric of the web.

Rather than being the coolest bar in town (and losing its clientele when they leave for a hipper spot), Facebook plans to become the Starbucks of the web, with a Like button on every corner.

Facebook’s Achilles Heel

Like all great plans, however, this one has a loophole: It relies upon Facebook owning the “social graph” — your network of connections (and, with the addition of “Likes”, your preference data too).

It’s in Facebook’s interests to lock up your social graph, and it’s in your best interests that they don’t. If Twitter, Google or another player were to make your social graph portable, you wouldn’t be siloing all your information in Facebook — you could do whatever you please with it.

Perhaps Facebook need not worry. Most users neither understand nor care about social graph portability, and ideas like Facebook Connect, Likes and toolbars give just enough access to the data to satisfy developers and all but the most discerning web user.

The question that will decide Facebook’s fate: Can it keep the social graph locked up forever?

[img credits: retroart / Zazzle, jimg944 / Flickr, SoulRider.222 / Flickr]

Tags: facebook, like