Facebook Connect Takes the Facebook Platform Everywhere

Two weeks ago, Facebook’s Dave Morin said to look out for big news on the data/identity portability front at Web 2.0 Expo SF.  Today, Facebook announced Facebook Connect, a comprehensive set of Platform services designed to let users take their Facebook identity, friends, and privacy anywhere on the web.

The idea behind Facebook Connect is a big one. As owners of a very large and relatively authentic part of the social graph, Facebook wants to allow users to share the identity, privacy settings, and friend lists that they have established on Facebook to application providers around the web. Historically, most social apps have attempted to build their own social graph (i.e. many failed social networks) or have punted on the idea of identity altogether (i.e. blog comments). With Facebook Connect, users can trust that their privacy will not be violated when they share their Facebook identity and friends with other sites.

Facebook Connect has 4 main features:

  • Trusted Authentication. Facebook users will be in total control of permissions granted (though the identity crowd will note that it’s a proprietary authentication system).
  • Real Identity. Users can bring their real identity with them wherever they go on the web, including basic profile information, profile picture, name, friends, photos, events, groups, and more.
  • Friends Access. Users will be able to take their friends with them wherever they go on the web. This will allow developers to create an entirely new class of applications leveraging much deeper social context.
  • Dynamic Privacy. Users’ Facebook privacy settings will follow them around the open web. For example, if you change a profile picture or change a setting, this will automatically be updated in Facebook Connect partner websites.

With Facebook Connect, Facebook hopes to take the Facebook Platform to a much deeper level. If Facebook is able to establish itself as the owner and steward of identity, privacy, and friends across the web, the company’s enterprise value will increase significantly.