On second thought, Facebook opts out of Google 'Friend Connect' for now

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5:30 pm ET May 15, 2008 - In a blog post today, Facebook developer Charlie Cheever said Facebook will be blocking Google's Friend Connect, citing a revelation about how it distributes users' private information.

Cheever remarked, "Now that Google has launched Friend Connect, we've had a chance to evaluate the technology. We've found that it redistributes user information from Facebook to other developers without users' knowledge, which doesn't respect the privacy standards our users have come to expect and is a violation of our Terms of Service.

"Just as we've been forced to do for other applications that redistribute data in a way users might not expect or understand, we've had to suspend Friend Connect's access to Facebook user information until it comes into compliance. We've reached out to Google several times about this issue, and hope to work with them to enable users to share their data exactly when and where they choose," he continued.

Cheever added MySpace's Data Availability, Google's Friend Connect, and Facebook Connect can constitute a great movement toward openness, but only while respecting user privacy.

4:00 pm ET, May 12, 2008 - A triumvirate comprised of the two biggest social networking sites plus the premiere search company, have committed to change the structure of the social Web by making their data portable.

Today, Google announced Friend Connect (Web site going live Monday night), a set of APIs for OpenSocial sites that allows social network data to be used on any Web site. Rather than widgetizing content from one site and injecting it into another, the goal is to ultimately make data equally useful to all sites through secure authorization APIs: OpenID, oAuth, and OpenSocial.

Shared information will include friends lists, profile data, status and presence details. Since Google is not itself a social networking site (although it does operate Orkut), it seeks to provide a gateway between them and third party sites that wish to use the data.

MySpace launched Data Availability on Thursday, which will allow users to dynamically share profile information and updates with other sites from a central location. Launch partners included Yahoo, eBay, Photobucket and Twitter, and the News Corp. site said the project will roll out further in the coming weeks.

The next day, Facebook announced its Facebook Connect, what it calls the "next iteration of Facebook Platform," which allowed third-party developers to develop social applications for the site. When it is rolled out ---also "in the coming weeks"-- participating sites will be able to share Facebook users' friends lists, their "real identities," photos, and videos. The only launch partner disclosed Friday was social news site Digg.

All three companies have made announcements extolling the benefits of allowing social networks to "be social" with other sites, but whether they will work together has yet to be determined. At the moment, MySpace data cannot be shared directly with Facebook or vice versa, as these sites have a vested interest in keeping users away from competitors.

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