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Latest Facebook frontier: Your dashboard?

Facebook will follow you on the road if you buy a GM vehicle equipped with an upcoming version of the automaker's OnStar system.

As multiple stories have outlined--see, for instance, those from the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News--OnStar subscribers would be able to update their status by voice and have friends' status updates read to them from behind the wheel.

This new OnStar release would also be able to read text messages sent to smartphones (catching up with a feature already offered by Ford's Sync system).

GM hasn't offered details about the cost and availability of this new OnStar version; I suspect that information will come at a Sept. 15 event marking the 15th anniversary of OnStar, with TV ads to follow. The GM subsidiary provides a variety of wireless-linked safety, diagnostic, communication and navigation services for fees of $199 or $299 a year, depending on features.

(9/15, 11:04 a.m. Here's the OnStar press release, describing the Facebook and text-messaging features as possible additions in testing.)

Bringing your Facebook news feed to your car's front seat would continue a bit of a technological turnaround by OnStar--which as recently as 2005, still shipped analog-only cellular hardware in cars. For example, in June OnStar added a link to Google Maps that lets drivers send directions from the site to their cars; in May it demonstrated an Android application that drivers of the upcoming Chevy Volt could use to manage that plug-in hybrid vehicle's operations.

But do you actually need to know what your Facebook friends are up to when you're on the road? I can see the case for having text messages read to you when you're behind the wheel; so many people text instead of calling these days. But most chatter on Facebook is not exactly time-sensitive. Some of it--say, phony updates posted by viruses, Twitter chatter automatically cross-posted to Facebook, ignorant or hypocritical political rants--I don't want to read even when I'm sitting in front of the computer with nothing else to do.

Under what circumstances would you want your car to interrupt you with some incoming electronic communication from friends? And how much would that feature be worth to you? (Alternate question: How much would you pay not to be interrupted by incoming messages when you're behind the wheel?)

By Rob Pegoraro  |  September 10, 2010; 11:45 AM ET
Categories:  Mobile , Social media  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Apple offers App Store review guidelines (and updates iPhone software)
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I hope we don't end up in a situation where we have to pay to turn that sort of stuff off.

Posted by: wiredog | September 10, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

great, now I'll always know what's going on in Farmville.

Posted by: jjtwo | September 10, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

oh yeah, and just imagine, if they want it to, they can also give real-time facebook places updates! you never have to tell anyone where you are, it automatically knows! what a wonderful world!

Posted by: jjtwo | September 10, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

I don't think drivers need *more* distractions. Saw one the other day, no serious injuries but...guy texting and going too fast plowed into a car stopped in front of him at a light. At least he manned up to what he was doing. Good grief.

Posted by: tbva | September 10, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

So if OnStar can't read your Facebook News Feed because the page is STILL broken after months and thousands of complaints (even a Facebook forum about it), whose job is it to fix: GM's or Suckieberg's?

I didn't think people who had reached their Peter Principle level were supposed to be billionaires.

Posted by: 54Stratocaster | September 12, 2010 1:37 AM | Report abuse

Read this peculiar story about someone who worked as a tech writer at Zynga, the company that made FarmVille and FrontierVille:

Posted by: freighter | September 13, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

When is someone going to design a system that lets you dock your phone when driving and offer the equivalent of OnStar via the phone's data plan? I don't need more services and devices, I need less. Phones already have GPS, Maps, and facebook access.

Posted by: mikebecvar | September 13, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

This is great! All the criminals, drug dealers and terrorists that drive GMs will be providing this information without the need for our counter-espionage and police to attach a separate GPS under their cars. Yes, big-brother will be watching them...and everyone else....

Posted by: OttawaForester | September 13, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

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