Yesterday, we brought you news of MySpace’s surprising Data Portability partnerships with Yahoo!, Twitter, and Ebay, which will allow MySpace users to port their public profiles, photos, videos and some friend data from one site to another. Facebook, not looking to be outdone, has announced plans to launch their new Facebook Connect platform, which has similar functionality to MySpace’s Data Availability.
What Is It?
Facebook says they’re “committed to enabling people to communicate and stay connected wherever they go” and looks to execute on this statement with Facebook Connect. The Facebook Connect platform will essentially be a new version of their API that was released back in May 2007. The new API will give developers the opportunity to develop tools that will allow users to port their connections, privacy settings, and networks from their Facebook account to other third party websites. Essentially, third party websites will have access to features that have only been available to third party applications on Facebook itself.
Digg looks like it will be the first launch partner for the platform.
Features of Facebook Connect
A new implementation of a trusted authentication method for users when connecting their account to third parties. Activities that require any additional social context will need authentication from the user. The user will have total control of the permissions granted.
Using a proprietary authentication method, users will be able to port information pertaining to their real identity to third party websites including: basic profile information, profile picture, name, friends, photos, events, groups, and more.
Users will be able to take their networks of friends with them to third party sites. Developers will be able to add rich social context to their websites and dynamically notify users of their Facebook friends that already have accounts on their sites.
Facebook users privacy settings will settings will follow them to third party sites to ensure that users’ information and privacy rules are always up-to-date. All updates to privacy settings on Facebook will automatically update on third party sites.
What About Standards
Facebook is making a huge leap by following MySpace’s footsteps and opening what we commonly refer to as its “walled garden.” However, questions remain about the Facebook Connect platform. For example, there have been no announcements of whether or not Facebook will be using Data Portability standards, though it seems that won’t be the case.
As Marshall Kirkpatrick noted about MySpace’s Data Availability platform announcement yesterday,
We hope that all of the content at issue will be marked up with standards-based microformats, be made accessible with standards-based authentication and be freely available to any party that wishes to innovate on top of it.
Agreeing to and adhering to Data Portability standards will make the end goal of portable social networking identities and information across these sites a lot easier to achieve. We hope that someone takes the lead and begins to use accepted standards as part of these efforts.