Menlo Park, CA-based startup SocialFeet has launched an alpha version of its Facebook Connect-powered widget that allows users to share their web surfing activity with their Facebook friends. It’s the first Facebook Connect widget implementation we’ve seen that bridges Facebook Connect authentication across sites.
Here’s how it works:
- A user goes to a site with the SocialFeet widget installed, like this one, and logs into SocialFeet.
- The user can see which of their friends have also visited the site, and share their activity on that site with their Facebook friends via the “Share” button. In addition, their activity on the site is anonymously shared with other SocialFeet users (see screenshot at right).
- If the user goes to another site with the SocialFeet widget installed, like this one, they are logged in to the SocialFeet widget upon arrival.
Here’s how SocialFeet describes their service:
SocialFeet allows a user to connect to your site and see which of their friends are also surfing the site. In addition, as they surf, we share their surfing habits with their friends, according to their preferences, across our network of sites. We believe this will expose users throughout our network to the activity and interesting content on your site, driving new users to your site. Visitors should also be able to develop a sense of community as they can see which of their friends are visiting the site and where they are visting throughout the SocialFeet network.
Given Facebook’s recently announced fourth party Connect policies (documentation here), some developers have steered away from implementing Facebook Connect-powered widgets that bridge authentication across sites (somewhat reminiscent of MyBlogLog).
Specifically, the part of Facebook’s policy that appears relevant to widgets like SocialFeet is this:
The widget developer can have a relationship with the site owner, but not directly with the user. Any Connect buttons or functionality need to be done in the context of the website that hosts the widget… The user has established a relationship with two parties: Facebook and the website. A widget developer should not create a third connection.
When asked about how this policy applies in this case, Nathaniel McNamara, CEO of SocialFeet parent company Yasnap, told Inside Facebook,
SocialFeet enables “Social browsing,” which will be a great service for users, websites, and Facebook. We welcome a dialogue about the specifics of the Connect policy with Facebook, and feel comfortable that we can remain in their good graces, because our visions are compatible. Since Facebook can (and does) modify their specific policies on their wiki regularly, SocialFeet has been working toward the common goal of a richer experience for the Facebook community wherever they browse.
A Facebook spokesperson said the company did not have any comment on this at this time. It is scenarios like these that will provide more concrete examples of the way Facebook’s fourth party Connect policies apply to Facebook Connect-powered widgets going forward.