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Google corrals web 2.0 turkeys for Facebook fightback

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Google is to make a me-too social networking move aimed at outflanking the Facebook Platform tomorrow with more interoperability for web app developers.

Despite being mostly useless, and occasionally irritating, some Facebook Platform applications have been a hit with users. Flagging music service iLike has been reinvigorated by its app, which lets users link to their favourite bands from their profile. It's used by six per cent of Facebook's 50 million subscribers.

Google's response consists of three APIs dubbed "OpenSocial". It'll bid to make it easier for developers to navigate the sprawl of online services with social elements.

Member sites can agree to share data with OpenSocial apps in three broad categories: the profile information, the friend data, and activity on the network (status updates etc).

Reports say the roster so far includes Google's own "big in Brazil" social network Orkut, business-focused site LinkedIn, people search engine Xing, couldabeenacontender Friendster, and web calendar firm Plaxo. Salesforce.com and Oracle are also working on OpenSocial adaptations for their online services.

The OpenSocial APIs are based on JavaScript and HTML, rather than a Facebook-style proprietory markup language. The idea is that developers of widgets, gadgets, apps, and doohickeys will only have to code it once to work across all the member sites.

Letting outsiders try and work out how to profit from social networking data is set to become ubiquitous in the near future. MySpace announced its platform recently, Yahoo!'s is in the works, and third-placer social network Bebo has hinted it'll open up to third parties soon too.

Predictably, Google's OpenSocial plans have web 2.0 bloggers all in a tizz. See here at Techcrunch. Whether its gaggle of social networking also-rans will have any impact against the Facebook juggernaut for normal users is another matter. ®

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