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Everything you need to know about Facebook Connect

On July 23, 2008 right after the f8 Developer Conference in San Francisco, Ca. Facebook opened up its Facebook Connect program. Initially it is launching with 24 Partners including Digg, Hulu, Six Apart, CBS, CNET, CollegeHumor, Disney/ABC, Seesmic and Vimeo. A notable statistic is that 33% of the initial partners are from the Online Video space.

According to Mark Zuckerberg, the 24 year old CEO and founder of Facebook, “Facebook Connect is the next evolution of the Facebook Platform — enabling you to integrate the power of Facebook into your own website“. In addition Dave Morin emphasized these 4 points on the Facebook Developer Blog describing Facebook Connect.

Trusted Authentication
Users will be able to connect their Facebook account with any partner website using a trusted authentication method. Whether at login, or anywhere else a developer would like to add social context, the user will be able to authenticate and connect their account in a trusted environment. The user will have total control of the permissions granted.

Real Identity
Facebook users represent themselves with their real names and real identities. With Facebook Connect, users can bring their real identity information with them wherever they go on the Web, including: basic profile information, profile picture, name, friends, photos, events, groups, and more.

Friends Access
Users count on Facebook to stay connected to their friends and family. With Facebook Connect, users can take their friends with them wherever they go on the Web. Developers will be able to add rich social context to their websites. Developers will even be able to dynamically show which of their Facebook friends already have accounts on their sites.

Dynamic Privacy
As a user moves around the open Web, their privacy settings will follow, ensuring that users’ information and privacy rules are always up-to-date. For example, if a user changes their profile picture, or removes a friend connection, this will be automatically updated in the external website.

What does Facebook Connect do?

Facebook Connect allows users to connect their Facebook account and data with any site on the web. It also lets Facebook users find existing friends that also use a Facebook Connect website, allowing them to share information and actions with their Facebook network.

Users can also publish information to Facebook based on the actions they perform while visiting a Facebook Connect site. For example, when a user takes an action like purchasing or reviewing a product, or posting content (Videos, Testimonials, Pictures) on your site, it generates a News Feed story on the user’s Facebook profile. Consequently, allowing for distribution of your products and content across the users Facebook network. You can also have the user add an application tab or box to their profile, listing their recent activity on the Facebook Connect site, or incorporating Facebook social context like user’s name, profile picture and/or their Facebook status, with their user experience on your site.

In addition, when a user visits a Facebook Connect site, it allows them to see what their connected friends are doing on your site by dynamically displaying which of your site visitors are already connected on Facebook and which friends already have accounts on the site

Ben Ling of Facebook gave this example “If I link my Facebook identity to my Yelp identity, I’ll be able to port over my profile, my content, my reviews. Also, I’ll be able to see if any my Facebook friends are also members of Yelp — and be able to automatically have our friendships authenticated and visible on Yelp.”

Here is a live demo of a Facebook Connect site which provides a look at the various elements at work:

How does Facebook Connect work?

There are two ways for a user to connect their account on your site with their account on Facebook.

First being when the user logs in to Facebook from a website, and the second is by accepting a Facebook Connect request on Facebook from another friend who has already connected their account on a website with their Facebook account.

Facebook Connect works on the Facebook Platform. It allows you to incorporate the REST API and FQL, onto any website, also offering new technology like XFBML and Friend Linking.

To get started developing some test Apps and Facebook Connect applications check out this link, it shows you how to add Facebook connect to your site with 3 tutorials that vary in degree of difficulty implementation and in integration points.

A big plus for Facebook Connect integration, is that there is no need to build a complete Facebook application. You simply need to get a basic application API Key and provide the callback and canvas page URLs).

How Facebook Connect interacts with the Facebook API.

How does Facebook plan on monetizing with Facebook


Although Mark Zuckerburg said that Facebook isn’t currently focused on monetization and will be looking to extend their platform’s reach first. I think its obvious they are trying to monetize, and this is how.

By sending personal info on likes and dislikes, you are essentially telling Facebook a little more about you every time you connect via a Facebook Connect site. Now envision the deluge of personal data coming in from all of its Facebook Connect partners.

Each connection is a tiny bit of information you feed Facebook, along with your onsite Facebook activities this allows them to generate an overall picture of who you are, what you like and what might interest you. With all that personal information at their disposal, Facebook can monetize their platform quite quickly a la Google Adwords/Adsense.

What do I think about Facebook Connect

Facebook Connect is the higher reincarnation of Facebook Beacon program, the first, much maligned effort of Facebook to monetize its platform. Now the realquestion we need to ask ourselves is can Facebook Connect out maneuver MySpace, Google , Yahoo Open and all the other “ Open ID” type projects, to win the Data Portability Game and monetize its platform while they’re at it. Currently Facebook Connect is only available in Sandbox mode , which means you can develop and test integrations and apps, but cannot make them publicly available until Facebook announces Facebook Connect is ready for launch, which is supposed to happen in late summer 2008. Facebook Connect has a lot of potential. But it becomes a double edged sword for Facebook, In order to to please users and follow their privacy best practices, they have to get very stringent with who they allow into the Facebook Connect program, managing thousands of users personal info. And like when they And that is probably going to piss of some developers when they do.

Another interesting side note to this rivalry is that Facebook has banned Google Friend Connect from interacting with its data, since it violates their terms of service. This is what Facebook has to say:

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.”

Acording to Dare Obasanjo of Microsoft Corporation,

“The real reason that Facebook is banning Google is that “ Friend Connect works by developing an OpenSocial wrapper over the Facebook API, which exposes it to other web sites as widgets and to OpenSocial gadget developers via APIs. Thus Google is pretty much proxying the Facebook social graph to other sites and developers which takes control of safeguarding/policing access to this user data out of Facebook’s hands.”

I totally agree!

What can go wrong with Facebook Connect?

Enough Said!

Below is a video screen capture of Facebook Connect in action. I will be updating with a better video soon!


Facebook connect FAQ

Anatomy of Facebook connect

Facebook Connect on Giga Om

Facebook Connect on Forrester

Facebook Connect, Friend Connect and Open Social Comparison

Official Facebook Connect Site

Facebook Connect API

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5 Responses to Everything you need to know about Facebook Connect

  1. Yogini August 26, 2008 at 9:03 am #

    Good article, Steaprok. Facebook Connect seems useful but I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble.

  2. Liz Hamill October 17, 2008 at 12:49 pm #

    All that drop by drop information gathering sounds, well, big brother-ish…creepy.

  3. Jordan March 15, 2009 at 3:39 pm #

    I would agree with Liz Hamill. I don’t like how Facebook are trying to get their fingers in everyone’s pies. Soon most website’s will all be running the FB api in the background. Imagine the possible exploits, I realise that Google has been doing this for a long time with GA but I trust Google a lot more than Facebook. Google doesn’t seem to F%#@ Up as much as Facebook. And in terms of brains, I think anyone who can’t get into Google probably get into the FB team.

    I myself have been instructed to integrate our website with FB. This is fine as it is a social networking site for businesses but I don’t like the future with FB in it everywhere we go.

  4. Jordan March 15, 2009 at 3:42 pm # <- I must say, they look younger than me and I just graduated.


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