Facebook chooses Opera over Chrome for recommended browser?

It looks like Google's Chrome is out and Opera is in, fuelling further speculation of a possible Opera takeover by Facebook.

(Screenshot by Josh Lowensohn/CNET)

Let the conspiracy theories begin.

Facebook has apparently booted Google's Chrome browser off its supported browser list, instead highlighting Opera, according to Favbrowser, which states that it managed to cache the page. (The page no longer appears.)

The alleged switch is particularly noteworthy because of speculation flaring up that Facebook is interested in acquiring Opera. Facebook, meanwhile, has long considered Google a competitor in the social arena.

Sitting alongside Opera in the screenshot cached by Favbrowser is Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Mozilla's Firefox.

It's unclear whether the supposed move has any meaning, or what that meaning may be. Regardless of the switch, Facebook still runs normally using the Chrome browser.

CNET contacted Facebook for comment, and we'll update the story when we get a response.


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Chandler posted a comment   

Don't get me wrong, I'm well aware that almost every browser developer does this, but my initial comment still stands - websites shouldn't partner with browsers: it's like MacDonald's giving preference to (or to the extreme - only allowing) Holden cars in their drive through.


Ben LaurenceL posted a comment   

Use this user agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; Windows NT 6.2; rv:15.0) Gecko/15.0 Firefox/15.0a1

stuff still shows up.


RoedyG posted a comment   

Opera's weakness is that it requires clean HTML and squeaky clean JavaScript to run. It chokes all the time on sloppy websites. Opera's strength is it is fast and light and it also works on handheld devices.

So this strikes me as a beautiful fit for Facebook. Opera's weakness discourages users from wandering outside. Facebook can guarantee clean markup. It also allows Facebook/Opera to pull fancy tricks you can't do in standard HTML, e.g. the way site colours and icons magically conform to your preferred Opera skin. That would just be the beginning. To get extra speed/responsiveness Facebook could send preparsed/compressed markup, or just deltas, or do far more clever proprietary client-side computing.


Chandler posted a reply   

Agreed. But a website partnering with a browser is just weird in my opinion, although there's plenty of them... I remember being unable to login on the Microsoft Answers site when using a browser other than IE.

Yes, Opera will get some users moving to it because it's the "preferred" browser and Facebook seems to or does work better on it, but I think Facebook will lose more than Opera gains if it becomes too cumbersome to run on other browsers.


Chandler posted a comment   

Using browser "support" to channel users away from your competitors other products... that's just low in my opinion.

Chrome supports HTML5 like all the other browsers - Facebook should stop trying to push its own agenda.


gregory.opera posted a reply   

Your comment is unfair because the companies that own the world's Internet browsers have been doing this sort of thing since the beginning...

Once upon a time, Time Warner pushed its Netscape products alongside AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) and Microsoft tailored their Web sites for Internet Explorer - there was even a lawsuit brought against Microsoft because of the fact that Microsoft was limiting functionality of certain sites when non-Microsoft browsers were used!

Heck, at one stage Microsoft even when as far creating an entire and extensive browser front-end for use with their services - MSN Explorer, which was a front-end for Internet Explorer (a damn fine browser it was too, even if it was a little slow!).

In modern times, Google still has extensive Chrome advertising almost every single time I visit a Google Web site (YouTube in particular) and there are countless Web sites - including a few major ones - that still will not work or will not work properly unless one is using certain browsers!

Realistically, it actually makes a lot of sense to purchase Opera in the grand scheme of things, because Opera Software is notorious for sticking to recognized Web standards... If the world's most popular Web site is recommending Opera with these principals in tow, it should force most other Web sites to follow recognized Web standards more closely (at least in theory).

Of course, there's always the possibility that Facebook actually plan to use Opera to push their own Web standards (something Google has become notorious for with Chrome, particularly with regards to HTML 5), but that's a chance you'll just have to take...

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