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May 14, 2008

NEWS: Friend Connect, Open Social, Ning, and the web

Ed: The Friend Connect announcement has caused confusion. Is it a game changer? 

Impact By Role
The New Internet Roles with Social Media
The impact depends on who you are. 
  • Creators like publishers and blogs gain social networking features - instantly and free. 
  • Lean forward friends, like pHubs, can immediately forward to their friends on any social network - rather than copying the url, clicking back to the social network, and 'posting an item.' Distribution becomes frictionless. gHubs would still want to post on their own blog or site - to route readers through their portal. 
  • Third party and lean back friends learn about the content via their social network inbox. 
As Mr. Andreessen points out, Friend Connect is a win-win-win as the virtues of viral marketing has been exported to blogs and web sites. It's become easier to promote, distribute, and discover relevant content. Thus, this accelerates growth of social networks. 

The flip side is mindshare - quantified as the percentage of time spent by consumers at social network, search, or news sites. 

ANALYSIS: Seismic Shifts of the Internet Ecosystem

Prior to 2000, the focus of the Internet was news and email. Yahoo and MSN leads these segments. (Use Alexa to compare Yahoo and Hotmail.com's share of page views.) Their share of global page views has been declining.

Friend Connect shifts share of time from social networks back to the content. Since Google sells the most ads on those pages, they win.

Friend Connect, Open Social, Ning, and the web

from blog.pmarca.com by 

First, I'm very happy to say that Ning will be rolling out our formal production support for Open Social in June.

In case you missed the news at the time, Open Social is a standard way, sponsored by Google, to build new features ("gadgets") and/or plug those features into social networks all over the web, including social networks on Ning.

Ning has had beta versions of Open Social running for six months now so we're excited to be able to now provide Open Social in production to all of our Network Creators and users. Open Social will be available within all 265,490 social networks already running on Ning, as well as the 10,000+ new social networks being created on Ning every week now.

Second, I'd like to discuss Google's new Friend Connect initiative and how we plan to support it at Ning.

We at Ning think that Friend Connect is a great idea, and has huge potential to make Open Social even more functional and widely available for a broad swath of our users and Network Creators on Ning and throughout the web.

However, in the last couple days, there's been some confusion around the idea that perhaps Friend Connect is somehow competitive with Ning -- which is odd, because we don't think so and because we think it's obvious that it's not. So let me start by first explaining what Friend Connect is, and then how Ning is going to implement it...

Did Andreessen miss the point of Google’s Friend Connect?

from Scobleizer -- Tech geek blogger by 

I was just reading feeds and it is 4 a.m. in the morning, so maybe I missed something here. But Marc Andreessen just spent quite a few words trying to convince me that Google’s Friend Connect doesn’t compete with Ning, the service he runs that helps companies build their own social network.

Now, if you compare Ning and Google’s Friend Connect head on, Marc is correct. They don’t compete. Ning is a complete social networking site that you can use without doing any coding. Friend Connect is a platform for building social networking features into existing sites (and more, but I’ll just focus on this one piece for the purposes of being clear here)...

Ning Chairman Marc Andreessen dings Google's Friend Connect

Ning's Andreessen defends his "product" approach to social networking versus Google's method of adding social features to any Web site.

Too Many Choices, Too Much Content

Sometimes it's just hard to keep up. In this technology-focused niche we all live in there are new applications, new initiatives, and new platforms that spring up every day, not to mention constantly breaking news that fills our RSS readers. Take a day off and you're behind. Take an hour off and you just missed 300 more blog posts. In addition to the everyday struggles of information overload the average computer user deals with - like the overflowing inbox, for example - those in the internet/new media/technology space aren't just overwhelmed with new content, but also with new applications and choices to manage that content. What's a web-app loving person to do?...

Ed: 24 hours later...

The Social Network Wars Begin In Earnest: Facebook Bans Google Friend Connect

Update: More details here.

Facebook is all about openness and data portability, as long as that doesn’t involve openness or portability of data, it seems.

Today they wrote a long 7 paragraph blog post to get a single point across: Facebook has banned Google’s Friend Connect access to the Facebook API:

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.

This of course has nothing to do with the fact that Facebook launched their own nearly identically named product called Facebook Connect three days before Google’s Friend Connect.

It’s not clear exactly what features of Friend Connect justified the ban, since it is so similar to what Facebook announced on Friday. Both products allow the export of profile and friend list data to third party websites.

In the last paragraph of the blog post, Facebook says they want to work with everyone: “We think MySpace’s Data Availability, Google Friend Connect, and Facebook Connect can be part of a great movement in the industry to give users a better and safer experience online, while respecting user privacy. We look forward to working with our developer community and everyone else in the industry to help all of our users take their information, and their privacy, with them wherever they go.” If that’s the case, this sure is an interesting start to a healthy working relationship with Google. Next up on the block list: MySpace and their Data Availability malware product, no doubt.

Thanks for the tip, Jesse.

Update: Facebook PR is pointing out Sections 2B(4), 2B(5) and 2A9(vi) of the Developer Terms of Service:

4) You may not store any Facebook Properties in any Data Repository which enables any third party (other than the Applicable Facebook User for such Facebook Properties) to access or share the Facebook Properties without our prior written consent.

5) You may not sell, resell, lease, redistribute, license, sublicense or transfer all or any portion of the Facebook Properties, or use or store any Facebook Properties for any purpose other than as specifically authorized herein.

You will not use Facebook Platform or any of your Facebook Platform Applications, and your Facebook Platform Application will not be designed…(vi) to request, collect, solicit or otherwise obtain access to usernames, passwords or other authentication credentials from any Facebook Users, or to proxy authentication credentials for any Facebook Users for the purposes of automating logins to the Facebook Site.

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