Less than three months after joining the OpenID Foundation’s board as a sustaining corporate member (i.e. putting its weight and financial support behind OpenID), Facebook has just announced at the “technology tasting” event this afternoon at its Palo Alto headquarters that users will soon be able to log in to Facebook with their OpenID.
Facebook is becoming what is known as an OpenID “relying party,” meaning users will be able to log in to Facebook with their OpenID from any provider – including Google, Yahoo, AOL, or MySpace. Facebook will automatically check to see if users have logged into any OpenID account when they hit Facebook.com, and give them the option to automatically login to Facebook without entering new information. In addition, users will be able to shortcut the registration flow by authenticating with Facebook using their OpenID.
“We’ve been thinking a lot about the user experience for OpenID. There’s been a lot of experimentation, but federated identity is a complicated problem,” Facebook engineer Luke Shephard said. “Facebook has always relied on external identity. When we looked at OpenID, we asked what is the minimum amount of functionality we could implement to provide some value to users.”
“We believe that the majority of the sharing that’s going to happen in the world isn’t going to be on any one site. That’s why building a platform and having it be interoperable is important for how the web developers and for us strategically,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.
Historically, Facebook has been hesitant to integrate OpenID either as an issuing party or relying party due to the user experience complexities it presents. For example, here’s what OpenID login looks like on Twitterfeed, a popular application for publishing blog post notifications via Twitter:
Facebook’s announcement is a major bolster to the OpenID movement, which hopes to create an “open, decentralized, free” framework for user identity across the web. The OpenID Foundation was formed in 2007 to help promote the OpenID technologies and community, and is currently governed by 7 community elected board members and 7 corporate board members. Shephard, a “huge internal advocate for OpenID,” serves as Facebook’s representative.