Facebook took steps to make its platform more useful for programmers and users Dec. 12 by offering to let other social sites license the Facebook Platform's methods and tags.
Now, not only can developers build applications that will work on Facebook, but developers can make these Facebook applications available on other sites with minimal coding.
British social network Bebo already has taken advantage of this new openness to launch its Open Application Platform.
Modeled after standards developed by Facebook's Platform, Bebo's platform lets third-party developers run their applications on the Bebo site.
Facebook's new approach is a sign that it is lessening its grip on its Platform, which it launched May 24, giving developers access to its users' profiles so they can build applications that work on Facebook.
However, some analysts at the time said this model was limiting because programmers have to use different APIs to build software for the other social networking communities.
Google launches OpenSocial. Click here to read more.
Indeed, Google sought to open up the social platform a little more with OpenSocial. Launched Nov. 1 and supported by dozens of partners, this platform provides open-source APIs that let programmers write software that works on the social networks of other OpenSocial members.
MySpace, LinkedIn, Plaxo and scores of others joined the cause, and some have opened up their own platforms. LinkedIn subsequently opened its developer platform Dec. 10.
Bebo said Dec. 13 that it plans to integrate with OpenSocial in early 2008, making it the first social media network to be compatible with both the Facebook and OpenSocial platforms.
However, while social networking sites may be opening up APIs, they're not giving up the keys to the kingdom, or the walled garden; information from users' profiles is not shared between social networks yet.
Still, by further loosening up the reigns on its Platform, Facebook is looking to extend its tendrils to more developers and the millions of users of other social networks, according to Ami Vora, senior platform manager for Facebook.
"Facebook Platform will continue to evolve, but by enabling other social sites to use what we've learned, everyone wins—users get a better experience around the Web, developers get access to new audiences and social sites get more applications," Vora wrote in a blog post Dec. 12.
Technical details about how to use Facebook's markup language to build on the platform may be found here.
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