SAN FRANCISCO-Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced Facebook Connect, his company’s first take on data portability.
The project allows users to take their identity and friends with them to any third-party Web site, desktop application or device, while protecting the privacy of their contacts.
This effort has the potential to be fantastic for programmers as well as consumers. With more than 90 million users, Facebook will eclipse MySpace in total users sometime this year.
These users are hungry to move their data to other Web sites in a sort of decentralization of the primary social network, an idea that Zuckerberg proved he understands very well during his presentation. Facebook Connect will let users share actions on partner sites with their friends back on Facebook through feeds.
Imagine taking your Facebook profile data and securely moving it to a new social network so you don’t have to enter in that data again, a repetition that is annoying even to those who only join a few social sites. That’s what Connect promises.
Facebook has 24 Web sites and applications working with Connect.
Securely Moving Data
These include Digg, SixApart and Citysearch, whose spokespeople for those efforts presented their integrations with Connect today. In those implementations, users can sign in to Digg, SixApart or Citysearch with their Facebook accounts and become part of those communities.
Importantly, the same privacy settings users have set up on Facebook will follow users wherever they log in throughout the Web.
I appreciated the preview, but neither I nor anyone else in the general availability category will be able to use Facebook Connect until sometime this fall.
Speaking of which, here is Google OpenSocial guru David Glazer’s take on Facebook Connect, a rival to Google’s own Friend Connect social service, on eWEEK soon.
The event lacked the revolutionary cachet of the launch of Facebook Platform at the inaugural F8 last year, but it also included a variety of other novelties, including a brand-new Facebook Platform Web site with better navigation and cleaner access to the blog, wiki and forums.
Facebook also opened up Platform’ Translation Application to any developer using Facebook Platform, so that users can make their app available in any of the 20 languages that are currently available on Facebook.
New programs that encourage programmers to build apps that are useful and not spammy include Facebook Great Apps program, which rewards apps that deliver value to users, and Applications Verification.
For Great Apps, if users like your app and it meets Facebook’s guidelines, Facebook will fully support it, Ling said. Facebook will open the Great Apps selection process to developers in September.
To help further weed out those spammy apps, Facebook’s Application Verification program offers extra assurances to help users identify applications they can trust. Like Great Apps, verified applications will benefit from added visibility on Facebook. This will also be open to developers in September.
Perhaps the real fun for developers is going on as I write, where some of Facebook’s 400,000 programmers are participating in the F8 Hack-a-thon. The rub? Programmers have 8 hours to write the best Facebook app they can.
The event may also be remembered for what the company didn’t unveil: the oft-speculated-on Facebook payment processing platform.
During a question-and-answer session with reporters, TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington asked about the status of the payment platform, which would allow third-party programmers to charge users for the apps they build on Facebook Platform.
“I wish I knew,” responded Zuckerberg, disappointing the couple dozen reporters in the room.