MySpace Opens Walled Garden, Partners with Yahoo

Allowing users to post to Yahoo, eBay, Twitter and Photobucket is a leap for social networks accused of locking user data behind the wall.

MySpace said it will soon allow its 117 million users to move their profile content from its site to other Web sites through its Data Availability initiative.

MySpace executives said in a conference call May 8 they would let users begin moving files, photos and other information stored on MySpace to participating sites Yahoo, eBay, Photobucket and Twitter in the coming weeks.

When pressed for an exact launch date, MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe said it would be in the next "several weeks." The content that will be made available for sharing with other sites will include basic profile information that is publicly available (biography and interests), friend networks, MySpace photos and MySpaceTV videos.

"At MySpace, we believe your personal, online social profile will become your Internet address," DeWolfe said. "Social activity isn't about creating a walled garden."

If MySpace can pull this together, it will be significant as it will be the first social network to let users share public profile information with other sites. MySpace and rival Facebook have been criticized for planting walled gardens that trap users' data.

To date, social sites have been reluctant to go down that path out of security concerns, as well as fear that users' privacy would be violated. Today's news, which the company said marks the first flag planted in the company's grand data-portability plans, means MySpace beat Facebook to the data-portability punch.

The Data Availability plan will let users control what information they share and who they share it with. Moreover, when users make a change on their MySpace page, that change will automatically be reflected on Yahoo, eBay, Twitter, Photobucket and any other site that eventually joins the party.

MySpace Senior Vice President of Technology Jim Benedetto said that MySpace will be rolling out a centralized location that allows users to manage how their content and data is made available to third-party sites.

Ideally, users will be presented with a list of participating sites and be able to check off easily what content they choose to share with each site.

So how will Data Availability work on Yahoo, eBay, Twitter and Photobucket?

On Yahoo, users who have chosen to share their MySpace content and data with Yahoo Instant Messenger might find their MySpace photo, interests and favorite music displayed to their Messenger contacts directly in the IM client.

eBay profiles will be enhanced with MySpace bios, interests, pictures and videos, giving the online auction site a more social vibe. Same goes for Twitter, where users will be able to incorporate their MySpace profile content.

Finally, Photobucket users will be able to create a single view of their photos across multiple services, as well as opt-in to displaying their MySpace profile data in their Photobucket albums.

To enable the data-sharing between participating sites, MySpace is using the open source OAUTH protocol, which enables secure API authentication in desktop and Web applications, and Restful APIs.

Concurrent with the unveiling of Data Availability, Benedetto said MySpace is officially joining the Data Portability Project. He declined to say what MySpace will do to further data portability or what additonal open standards, such as OpenID, Data Availability would support.

MySpace's news should be a shot in the arm after News Corp.'s Fox Interactive Media, which lords over, was said to fall $100 million short of its $1 billion annual revenue goal.