Questions for Facebook
But eWEEK has questions. For example, MySpace is launching with four partners, so is Facebook launching with partners, or just throwing something to see if it sticks?Also, what security method is Facebook using? MySpace is using OAUTH.Will Facebook leverage OAUTH, OpenID or some proprietary security, which will go against the grain of standardization? Facebook, which did not respond to eWEEK, will have to answer these questions. Facebook told Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li, one of the analysts fortunate enough to get a briefing May 9, that Yelp.com could be one of the sites it is targeting. "If I link my Facebook identity to my Yelp identity, I'll be able to port over my profile, my content, my reviews," Li wrote in her blog. "Also, I'll be able to see if any of my Facebook friends are also members of Yelp-and be able to automatically have our friendships authenticated and visible on Yelp." So, clearly Facebook Connect is supposed to work like MySpace. What is unclear is how. Also, days after Google declined to answer whether or not it would join MySpace's Data Availability effort, Google appears set to announce its own take on data portability. According to TechCrunch, Google will introduce May 12 Friend Connect, a set of APIs that lets OpenSocial members shuttle profile information from social networks into other Web sites. Ideally, users could move data from MySpace to other apps, perhaps even Google Apps. TechCrunch's Michael Arrington raises an important point: "The reason these companies are rushing to get products out the door is because whoever is a player in this space is likely to control user data over the long run. If users don't have to put profile and friend information into multiple sites, they will gravitate toward one site that they identify with, and then allow other sites to access that data." The idea that the companies will hold any sway creates a nice competitive atmosphere, but the fact is that this is now table stakes; as Forrester's Li points out in her blog, social networks are becoming like air, and companies will have no choice but to let users control the data. Whether MySpace, Facebook or Google is first won't matter. Users will demand, and vendors will have no choice but to supply.