Facebook to Google: Friend Disconnect

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Data Portability Efforts

Friend Connect, Facebook Connect and MySpace Data Availability are separate initiatives announced in the past week designed to let people reuse the content from their social network profiles in other sites.

The main idea behind this data portability concept is to save people from having to reenter into multiple sites common profile information like their personal interests, list of friends, photos, video clips, blog postings and the like.

However, none of the three initiatives even comes close to providing a broad data portability solution, although MySpace, Google and Facebook have been commended by industry observers for at least taking some first steps to address the issue.

It's not a secret that data portability itself is a complicated matter to solve due to significant technical as well as commercial and operational challenges that surround it.

Thursday's move by Facebook highlights just one of the considerable obstacles for data portability: the different user-privacy policies and settings that exist among social networks and online service providers. These policies and settings need to be reconciled and harmonized in order for them to share and accept user data from each other.

Friend Connect is designed to let Web publishers add social-networking features to their sites in a simple, straightforward way, by inserting "snippets" of code, according to Google.

With Friend Connect, sites can add social features like user registration, friends invitations and message posting, and allow visitors to interact with their existing friends at social-networking sites like Google's Orkut, Plaxo, Hi5 and, until recently, Facebook.

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