An About Face on "Openness" - Facebook


When Facebook Connect launched last year, there was much criticism that still lingers today. Providing the status.get API method is not enough, they still keep everything in a locked box. A Wall Street Journal article says Facebook will be announcing new developer access to photos and videos, but I believe it will be something more. What we may see is access to the crown jewels of Facebook - Feeds and Shared Items. This would allow users to access their Facebook services from potentially a different site altogether - quite a risky idea. Twitter has taken a different approach from the beginning by opening core features to developers without requiring a customized programming language like Facebook FMBL or Facebook Connect. Most observers agree that Connect doesn't necessarily generate new users but increases the level of engagement with your existing ones. The value of opening up "Shared" is that Facebook enforces network location whereas Twitter does not. You could filter stories based on geographic location more accurately because "Dallas, TX" and "DFW" mean the same thing on Facebook but not on Twitter. We need to see how they open up Feed. The default privacy settings are too restrictive to be useful to developers unless it is set to "Everyone." This is a critical time for Facebook and its 200 million members; they could become just another service connection hub by accident.