What Does Everyone Think About Facebook Connect?
Facebook Connect was announced back in May and has just recently begun to see the light of day. Since the announcement, the obligatory privacy concerns have been raised, but Facebook hoping to nip that in the bud has made it very clear that users can choose whether or not they wish to share information, a feature that was also available with the resurfacing of Beacon a while back.
“We believe the next evolution of data portability is about much more than data. It’s about giving users the ability to take their identity and friends with them around the Web, while being able to trust that their information is always up to date and always protected by their privacy settings," the company said upon Facebook Connect’s announcement.
What is Facebook Connect?
Facebook Connect allows users to sign in to accounts on various partner sites with their own Facebook IDs, and then share activities from these other sites with their friends, not unlike Beacon (except for the whole involuntary aspect). It lets users access their Facebook friends directly from the third-party sites. Sites involved with Facebook Connect include Digg, Hulu, the Discovery Channel, and others.
"Whether you’d actually want to use your real identity on a site like Digg is another matter, of course," writes Jack Schofield on the Guardian Technology Blog. "It seems to me that the number of sites where you’d want to be identified is a very tiny subset of the web — though it could be a profitable subset."
Some think this will be the ticket Facebook has been looking for when it comes to advertising. "Facebook has detailed information about its users: their real identities, what they like and dislike and whom they associate with. With a member’s permission, it could use that data to help other Web sites deliver more personalized ads," says Brad Stone at the New York Times. "Similarly, those sites could tell Facebook what its users are doing elsewhere, helping to make its own ads more targeted."
Stone also quotes Charlene Li on the matter: “It’s becoming very clear that advertisers don’t know how to advertise on Facebook…But if you take a group of Facebook friends and put them on a travel site where they are spending more time and generating more ad dollars in a focused area like travel, that is an opportunity ripe for getting revenues back and sharing it.”
Avoiding Another Beacon Fiasco
Facebook has been taking its time with Connect, as is evident from the seven-month period between its announcement and now. They wanted people to know it was coming, and not creep them out. They wanted people to get familiar with it.
“We want to make the experience as lightweight and easy to use as possible," says Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. "But we also have to make sure that people understand what’s going on and have control over it.”
So far, reactions for the most part actually seem pretty positive, which for some reason I find a little surprising. Browsing comment sections on a number of blog posts written about Facebook Connect, people seem eager to have the ability to call up their Facebook friends from other sites, and like the idea of not having to login to multiple sites. What do you think about it?