NYTimes adds Facebook feature ahead of paywall

The New York Times is to allow users to login into its website using Facebook and in doing so sends out a message that it does not want the introduction of its metered paywall next year to get in the way of sharing content socially.

The tact the New York Times is taking is markedly different to that of The Times in London, as it reportedly struggles to attract subscribers, eschewing social media. The New York Times with its Facebook link is keeping social media central to its content strategy.

It is a reminder that the New York Times will continue to give away a certain amount of content when its metered paywall is implemented early in 2011.

The "Log In With Facebook" feature allows users to link their NYTimes.com and Facebook accounts to recommend and comment, and see the activity their friends choose to share on NYTimes.com.

Unlike the implementation of Facebook Connect that got the Washington Post into hot water the NYtimes.com has worked to ensure that its version is an opt-in feature.

The New York Times has also ensured that, unlike other sites, the Facebook login does not replace NYTimes.com registration. Instead it links the two and leaves the paper in complete control of its user registration data. This issue has been a worry for some publishers.

To view personalised content, users will have to connect their Facebook and NYTimes.com accounts. That will allow them to share articles from NYTimes.com with their Facebook friends on the site and on Facebook.

For those who connect their account the NYTimes.com homepage and article pages will highlight the most popular Times content within Facebook and the user's network of friends. This will include comments and recommendations.

Alternately, NYTimes.com users who choose not to connect their accounts will see an aggregate of the most popular Times content within Facebook.

Denise Warren, senior vice president and chief advertising officer, The New York Times Media Group, and general manager, NYTimes.com, said: "Log In With Facebook is the next step in our commitment to the social element of our business - further allowing our readers to share and connect around our content. With this feature, we are delivering a more engaging, personalized experience on NYTimes.com, and our readers can expect more on this front in the coming months."

The NY Times said that as part of the integration, share tools will be enhanced to allow users to recommend and comment on Times news and features directly from NYTimes.com to Facebook.

Read also - Paywall strategy failure – The Times today

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