Facebook Opening Up User Profiles To Third Party Developers

    April 27, 2009

The arms race between Facebook and Twitter or social media supremacy has its good and bad moments. The good is that all of this ‘one-upsmanship’ should eventually lead to better tools for social media users. The bad news is that we have to hear about every time someone at one of these two companies has a thought.

So today’s update comes from Facebook. According to the WSJ

Facebook Inc. is expected to announce significant plans to open up core parts of its sites — namely the information that appears in the stream of updates on users’ homepages and profiles — to third-party developers so that they can build new services on top of it, people familiar with the matter say.

It appears as if Facebook may be loosening its grip on the look and feel of the site by allowing these third party folks to have access to the data (with user permission). The end game is to make the site something that people would like to come back to more often. Interesting take considering the recent turnout for the big vote on the terms of service proposed changes. This opportunity will be free so there is no initial revenue generation angle here but hopefully someone is thinking that making money will be a good thing at some point.

In addition, the Palo Alto, Calif., company is expected to announce that developers can pull the Facebook data using an open technology standard that other Web sites can also use, a decision likely to broaden the service’s appeal.

It appears as if Facebook has reached that point where they are going to be both congratulated and vilified for just about anything they do. That is the price of success really. The article closes with the following statement

Still, Facebook, which has around 200 million users world-wide, has been heavily criticized for not doing more and for requiring developers to write some services using a customized Facebook programming language. Other companies like micro-blogging service Twitter have generated buzz by opening up more of their core features to developers.

So whether you feel that Facebook is ahead of the curve, behind the curve or making their own curve the changes will most likely continue to come at a fast and furious pace. One thing the social media industry is certainly establishing is the ability to change more often that traditional tech players who introduce buggy ‘major changes’ every year or so. While forgiveness may be hard to come by for these trendsetters you have to admire their willingness to change.