Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Digg–people are tired of entering the same information over and over again, every time they join a new social-networking site. Earlier this year, many social-site operators announced efforts to solve the problem by creating tools that make users’ information portable. But as these products have started to roll out in the past few weeks, trying to keep up with them all has saddled websites with extra engineering.

Google announced Monday that people would be able to use its Friend Connect service to export data to the popular microblogging service Twitter. But according to a post by Twitter cofounder Biz Stone on the company’s official blog, Twitter plans to play nice with several networks: Google, Facebook, and MySpace. The post notes, however, that enabling interoperability with all three services will require a “significant development effort on our [Twitter’s] part.” Nor does the post say when that effort is likely to be complete.

Both Friend Connect and the competing Facebook Connect promise to let webmasters add social features without having to build their own networks, and to allow users to log in to multiple sites with existing passwords. And like MySpace’s planned service, they need to share necessary information between sites without violating the user’s privacy or the site’s intellectual property, and keep information across sites in sync. But Facebook’s offering, which is designed to hang on to the social data that the company has already collected, is in sharp contrast to Google’s effort to keep information freely available.

Facebook Connect lets users access Facebook services from other websites–adding new friends, writing status updates, posting notes, and the like–but all that information stays on Facebook’s network. Google Friend Connect, on the other hand, lets users interact with services from any participating site–Twitter, Plaxo, or Orkut, for example.

Companies that don’t want to give preferential treatment to either approach will likely face daunting engineering tasks for the foreseeable future. For besides embodying different philosophies, Friend Connect and Facebook Connect are fairly different technically, explains Web-standards advocate Joseph Smarr, chief platform architect at Plaxo, a company that helps people synchronize data between a variety of online and offline services.

Smarr has designed Plaxo to be compatible with both services and is working to make it compatible with MySpace as well. But while MySpace and Google are mostly relying on emerging standards to accomplish these tasks, Facebook has built its own proprietary technologies. As a consequence, supporting Facebook Connect on a site is an entirely separate engineering task from supporting Friend Connect, Smarr says.

1 comment. Share your thoughts »

Credit: Technology Review

Tagged: Business, Communications, Facebook, social networks, MySpace, interoperability, Facebook platform, Facebook Connect, Google Friend Connect, data protability

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me