Facebook Unveils Anonymous Login at F8 Developer Meetup

The feature will enable Facebook members to log in to new apps namelessly until they feel comfortable trusting app makers with their personal data.

Facebook made news April 30 at its F8 developers' conference in San Francisco by introducing a revamped mobile app development platform. It also broke some new ground by revealing that it will allow users to access applications without having to identify themselves each time to the app.

In other words, users already logged in to Facebook won't have to reidentify themselves when opening an app from its store, risking a second identity connection with the app provider that could be compromised in some way.

The 1.28 billion-member social network already knows so much about you, your friends, and your likes and dislikes that it needs to know less about who exactly uses its apps. It still wants to know how, when and where people are using them and for what purposes; the company just doesn't need to have names and faces attached to all those requests.

Hope to Calm Increasing Privacy Concerns

The strategy is designed to help calm increasing fears about better securing personal information, and users are likely to favor it. But Facebook needs to get its community of developers on board with this idea first, and that's much of what it laid out at the daylong F8 meetup.

The new Anonymous Login feature will enable Facebook members to log in to new apps namelessly until they feel comfortable trusting app producers with their personal data. Facebook, however, will still need to transmit some form of unique identification to the app, most likely in the form of an encrypted ID number.

"This is going to let you try apps without fear. And if you want, you can always sign in with your real identity," CEO Mark Zuckerberg told a full house at the Concourse in San Francisco. "People want more control over how they share their information, especially over apps."

The new feature, however, is only one facet of the new Facebook mobile development platform introduced by the Menlo Park, Calif.-based social network on April 30.

"We all want identity across platforms, sharing across platforms, push notifications across platforms, app installs, and even monetization. This is what Facebook Platform is all about," Zuckerberg said in rallying developers around the profit potential of the platform. "Building the cross-platform tools that you need to build, grow and monetize your apps everywhere."

Facebook Working on These Tools Anyway

Zuckerberg said that "it's natural for us to focus on these things, because a lot of these same tools we needed to build for ourselves in order to help more than a billion people connect across all these different systems."

Facebook now is using a new log-in management system that allows users to choose from a list of personal information they want to share or keep private, including such items as email address, movie and music favorites, and others. There is significant use of this system; in 2013 alone, Facebook users logged in to apps more than 10 billion times.

Facebook is now testing Anonymous Login with a small team of developers and plans to offer it to a wider group in a few months.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...