Google Cramping Facebook's Style

Dennis Faas's picture

Google recently made a preview release of its Friend Connect service available, which allows websites to add social networking features to its pages. Registration, invitations, members galleries, message posting, reviews and 3rd party applications based on Google's Open Social platform can all be added. (Source:

The search giant has designed Friend Connect to interact with most of the major social networks, but is currently available on limited websites, such as singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson's. The Michaelson site uses the iLike application that allows fans to interact and leave posts about their favorite songs. The application also gives you the option to publish any of your iLike activity to your profile on Google's social network Orkut, as well as sharing with your Google Talk friends, and access to hi5 is coming soon. Friend Connect was also designed to interact with Facebook, but the social network quickly shut down any applications that tried to interact with the site's members.

On its developers blog, a Facebook representative said, "We've found that it [Friend Connect] redistributes user information to other developers without the users' knowledge." A violation of Facebook's privacy policy. (

Facebook has been a little gun shy recently with sharing user information since its Beacon disaster last year.

To use Friend Connect users must choose between signing in with a Google, Yahoo, AIM or OpenID account. After that, you can select which of the participating social networks you want to publish your activity on a Friend Connect application. This means users would access their Facebook profiles through a third party identification process.

If people begin to use Friend Connect applications and favor social networks that allow the Open Social programming (which Facebook does not) then social networking could radically change from a portal specific utility, to a more open set up, potentially pulling users away from Facebook's pages.

Furthermore, Facebook recently announced its own version of Friend Connect, called Facebook Connect, which essentially behaves in the same way as Google's service. (Source:

Not surprisingly, Facebook is not interested in allowing a competitor to access its information and then deliver a similar service to one it has already developed.

Google mind you is not completely benevolent in its actions either. By giving away programming and source code for free that works across on numerous websites they increase their reach and influence, which could mean advertising dollars further down the road.

Both Google and Facebook seem to be committed to increasing usability features for users of social networks, but both companies want to do it on their own terms.

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