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Having faces is not enough

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Following quickly in the footsteps of MySpace, both Facebook and Google have announced new-fangled tools that allow social-networking types to shuttle their online data from site to site.

Last week, MySpace trumpeted something called MySpace Data Availability, an initiative that will soon give MySpacers the power to automatically move their profiles - including photos and videos - onto third party sites. And a day later, Facebook followed suit with Facebook Connect, an extension of its Facebook Platform API.

"Facebook Connect is the next iteration of Facebook Platform that allows users to 'connect' their Facebook identity, friends and privacy to any site," wrote Facebook senior platform manager Dave Morin on the official Facebook Developers blog. "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."

Of course, this sort of thing requires the technical cooperation of third party sites, and that's still to come - with both the Facebook and the MySpace initiatives. That said, MySpace has already penned agreements with several partners, including Yahoo!, eBay, Photobucket, and Twitter.

Naturally, MySpace and Facebook say that their social shuttles will provide all the security and privacy that users require. MySpace tells us it's already settled on the OAUTH standard for authentication, while Facebook is still mulling its options.

Not to be outdone, Google announced its own social shuttle last night while eating Smores at one of its regular Campfire One developers gatherings. Google Friends Connect is billed as a service that lets "non-technical site owners sprinkle social features throughout their websites," and Feature Numero Uno involves the transfer of friends lists from well-known outfits like Facebook, hi5, LinkedIn, Google's orkut, and Plaxo.

Friends Connect will also allow third-party site owners to easily add pre-existing social spps built with OpenSocial, the open source social networking APIs introduced by Google in the fall.

"Having faces show up at a site is not enough. Friend Connect lets site owners include OpenSocial apps made by a world of developers," Google's Mussie Shore wrote last night on the Official Google Blog. "We're providing a few apps, such as posts and ratings, to get the ball rolling. And many more will be provided by the OpenSocial community."

The MySpace and Facebook initiatives will launch in "several weeks." Third-party site developers can sign up for Google's Friends Connect wait list here. ®

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