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May 24, 2007 3:59 PM   Subscribe

Facebook to open their API. Online networking site Facebook is adding third-party app support to their API. Adding a new app (which can include ads) broadcasts it to your contacts. Innovation, or recipe for disaster? But can MySpace even be beaten? And if Facebook can poach MySpace's users, do they really want them? For that matter, is MySpace even the juggernaut some claim? Anyone have any ideas for new Facebook app mashups?
posted by spiderwire (44 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Fortune has an in-depth article on the changes here.
posted by spiderwire at 4:02 PM on May 24, 2007


Online networking site Facebook is adding third-party app support to their API.

Their API has always been for third-party app support. That's not new, what's new is that the apps can now show up on profile pages. DO NOT WANT.

What I really want is something that will import my Picasa photos into Facebook seamlessly. But that would have been possible with the old API, just like the iPhoto importer.
posted by grouse at 4:07 PM on May 24, 2007


I'm fine with this so long as I can whitelist apps and block everything else. Either that or I'm just going to can any friend with the bad taste to have a Red Bull app plastered on their page.
posted by chrominance at 4:08 PM on May 24, 2007


Their API has always been for third-party app support.

Could have fooled me. I was under the impression that they've always been very strictly closed. Part of the reason their page design doesn't look like elephant vomit.
posted by spiderwire at 4:11 PM on May 24, 2007


The only social networking site I found that people actually find useful post-college/high school is the ultra-exclusive "asmallworld." I have one friend, a long distant friend I see usually during holidays, that happens to be a member and he absolutely loves it. It is so exclusive people post cool parties in their apartments (read: penthouses) or houses. He travels quite a bit and appreciates being able to go to a given major city and have an extended range of friends (read: People Like Us) with similar backgrounds.

That's what I'd love to see in the Facebook or other sites. The problem is when you include everyone, everything gets reduced to cliques and such. I already know what my immediate friends are doing, and I don't have enough time to keep up with an extended network to take advantage of the the ability to know something cool going on all the time. Not that it is all about parties and social events, but I really could careless about everything else (music, books) and I wager most people older than 16 agree.

If there was a self-selective site like asmallworld for those not of the jetset variety, it would be cool -- otherwise I leave social networking to the very young. I don't know how it would work, to be honest, but if someone could create something that was not all-inclusive the utility would be much greater.
posted by geoff. at 4:11 PM on May 24, 2007


Have you tried Picknik photo editor/w.2.0? They just added Facebook integration...
posted by acro at 4:11 PM on May 24, 2007


(Picnik)
posted by acro at 4:12 PM on May 24, 2007


Also Flickr, Google Photo, ...
posted by acro at 4:14 PM on May 24, 2007


I was under the impression that they've always been very strictly closed.

You were wrong, what can I say? Remember that API means "application programming interface." An API is usually for the use of third parties. And the API has been around since September of last year. Here are some existing applications.
posted by grouse at 4:18 PM on May 24, 2007


I'd like facebook to interface with last.fm so that my stalkers can see what music I'm listening to.
posted by Hildegarde at 4:22 PM on May 24, 2007


You were wrong, what can I say?

Hey, I appreciate the correction; thanks for the link. :)

As to the other comments, I have the feeling (based on the Fortune article) that Zuckerberg underestimates the value of exclusivity. Facebook's walled garden has been important to them. There still aren't any social networking sites out there that provide adequate segmentation of different friend groups (work, school, personal, close friends, etc.) -- unless they figure out a way to manage that, I'm certainly not going to use my account for anything but school and a few close friends, so they'll be missing out on a lot of the networking potential they could otherwise get from me.

I can't imagine that I'm the only one that feels this way.
posted by spiderwire at 4:26 PM on May 24, 2007


You kids and your "social networking sites".
posted by signal at 4:28 PM on May 24, 2007


Myspace is great for finding new music, or listening to more than that one new single by that artist you like. If facebook can beat them out at this by mashing with itunes or imeem I would probably forget Myspace, and all of its 300 million hideous pages ever existed.
posted by clearly at 4:28 PM on May 24, 2007


The only social networking site I found that people actually find useful post-college/high school is the ultra-exclusive "asmallworld." I have one friend, a long distant friend I see usually during holidays, that happens to be a member and he absolutely loves it.

I tend to agree. I'm a member (I'm aware that they ban people for saying too much publicly about it) but its amazingly useful when traveling. Because the network is so small and exclusive, ASW members around the world help each other out - not that they need that help.

As I recall facebook faced the same dilemma of exclusivity vs. growth - first it was only Harvard, then all colleges, then all alums, then the whole world - and obviously chose the latter. Its an understandable choice but in the end makes them less useful.
posted by vacapinta at 4:31 PM on May 24, 2007


There still aren't any social networking sites out there that provide adequate segmentation of different friend groups (work, school, personal, close friends, etc.)

Facebook has extremely configurable and granular privacy settings, with different settings for each network and essentially two categories of friends. But they aren't yet the most visible or easy to use part of the site.
posted by grouse at 4:39 PM on May 24, 2007


Facebook has extremely configurable and granular privacy settings, with different settings for each network and essentially two categories of friends. But they aren't yet the most visible or easy to use part of the site.

Yeah, but they don't let me segment my friend list internally. Again, being able to separate my school from work is important for me and many other people :)
posted by spiderwire at 4:43 PM on May 24, 2007


Eww, I had no idea you asmallworld schmucks were allowed here.

But seriously, isn't that pretty much what MetaFilter is, but for smart, interesting, liberal-but-open-minded people?
posted by roll truck roll at 4:45 PM on May 24, 2007


In the second link, the author claims that:

The way I see it, C3s [his acronym for "console for consumer control"] represent the killer app and the end-game for the alphabet soup (e.g. XML, RSS, AJAX, etc.) that is Web 2.0..

Anyone who thinks they know the endgame of anything this substantial needs to get a grip on themselves, or it's Taxi for Fukuyama! all over again.

The rest of his analysis was fine... until he claimed that the founders of some facebook clone he'd met were best placed to challenge MySpace. Coincidence? Genius on his part? It's either one of those, or more likely just taking the blue pill or shilling for pals, surely.
posted by imperium at 4:50 PM on May 24, 2007


Yeah, but they don't let me segment my friend list internally.

Again, they do. There are regular friends, and limited profile friends.
posted by grouse at 4:50 PM on May 24, 2007


Forget third-party apps. I'd settle for native support of frikkin' italics.
posted by Iridic at 5:01 PM on May 24, 2007


Myspace drew bands because it drew in visitors to their pages better than popping up a website and hoping people stumbled by. However, Myspace is choking on its success with spambots flooding inboxes.
posted by drezdn at 5:10 PM on May 24, 2007


Facebook’s strategy is almost the polar opposite from MySpace. While MySpace frets over third party widgets, alternatively shutting them down or acquiring them, Facebook is now opening up its core functions to all outside developers.

That's not exactly correct. Facebook is allowing people to add value to their product, they're not "opening it up" Opening it up would mean allowing people to host their own profiles, and simply link in like jabber or the email system. This is simply a playground for corporate wankerery.

That said, the facebook people are very, very smart and their site is like night and day compared to myspace. I'm pretty confident that they won't do anything to really fuck it up, and being a private company they have no real pressure to try to cram every penny out of every page view the way myspace tries too.

It's like the my space people have absolutely no sense of quality whatsoever.
posted by delmoi at 5:39 PM on May 24, 2007


There are regular friends, and limited profile friends.

Again, I realize that. I'm saying that (a) I don't want to "limit" my information, I want to show different information to each segment, and (b) regardless, two segments isn't enough. The faces I present at work, at school, and to my friends are all fundamentally different. I don't want to put my favorite video games on my work page, and I don't want to put all my current academic work on my friend page.
posted by spiderwire at 5:39 PM on May 24, 2007


I don't quite get how facebook is open to alums, when they certify your status with a school email. I've only been out of college 9 years, but I no longer have an email. What are you supposed to do as an even older alumnus?
posted by artifarce at 5:42 PM on May 24, 2007


Btw, if you have a facebook account you can edit your feed settings here after logging on. They don't have a slider for app notifications that I can tell, but I imagine that they'll ad one if lots of people add lots of apps.
posted by delmoi at 5:42 PM on May 24, 2007


I don't quite get how facebook is open to alums, when they certify your status with a school email. I've only been out of college 9 years, but I no longer have an email. What are you supposed to do as an even older alumnus?

Facebook is open to everyone now.
posted by delmoi at 5:42 PM on May 24, 2007


But you can't join a school network without an active email address at that school.
posted by armage at 6:31 PM on May 24, 2007


But you can't join a school network without an active email address at that school.

My school offered us a forwarding alumni .edu account. Perhaps yours can as well.


I'm signed up, but don't actually ever use Facebook. My problem with it is exactly what others laud: the exclusivity and the barriers to everything. I always found it way too segregated. I prefer a more open system.
posted by cmgonzalez at 6:49 PM on May 24, 2007


They don't have a slider for app notifications that I can tell, but I imagine that they'll ad one if lots of people add lots of apps.

They just announced the functionality today; I don't think it's implemented yet. The API that grouse pointed to looks different -- it mediates access to profile data for external web and desktop apps.
posted by spiderwire at 6:52 PM on May 24, 2007


>Wonderful, more unreadable pages and animated backgrounds.

There's more to this than you read, and most of the rant against the api is just misunderstanding. Users are able to hide apps from their view throughout Facebook, and must authorize Flash and other fancy-shmancy media players before they can automatically start playing tunes and animations. f8 brings a pretty good level of control from the user standpoint, and it's nothing like the myspace free-for-all.
posted by holycola at 7:39 PM on May 24, 2007


You know what gets me about all these "social networking" sites?

No-one I know in real life is on them. I must have gone to school and university with some very non-Web2.0 people.
posted by Jimbob at 7:48 PM on May 24, 2007


The thing I like most about Facebook is the ability to look at somebody's profile and not be assaulted by horrible flashbacks to Geocities. Removal of this feature will surely sour my opinion toward the whole thing.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:59 PM on May 24, 2007


There's more to this than you read, and most of the rant against the api is just misunderstanding.

Methinks your sarcasm meter needs a version update.
posted by spiderwire at 8:04 PM on May 24, 2007


I think the difference between MySpace and Facebook can be summed up thus:

MySpace: Let's allow users to cram every horrible design element from Web 1.0 AND Web 2.0 into one page.

Facebook: Let's do Classmates only better.
posted by Zinger at 8:15 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Here's the big ginormous Elephant In The Middle Of The Room question - Will their API support a single-login? For example, say a user makes a new account on your website - will there be a way to automatically create an account on Facebook with the same name and password? Likewise, will there be some sort of login-passthrough, whereby a user logs into your site, and is automatically logged into their matching Facebook account?

Until this sort of functionality becomes more commonplace, Web 2.0 will remain an empty marketing slogan.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:15 PM on May 24, 2007


I've never been interested in facebook, myspace, etc because nobody I knew was on them. In the last two months, however, probably the majority of my friends (which comprise at least three completely separate groups of people) have signed up to facebook. I have no idea why, but all of a sudden, it seems to have reached critical mass.
posted by jacalata at 11:29 PM on May 24, 2007



Here's the big ginormous Elephant In The Middle Of The Room question - Will their API support a single-login? For example, say a user makes a new account on your website - will there be a way to automatically create an account on Facebook with the same name and password? Likewise, will there be some sort of login-passthrough, whereby a user logs into your site, and is automatically logged into their matching Facebook account?


Er... what? That strikes me as a fantastically bad idea--how are you planning to have third-party apps handle authentication? Do you want Joe User to have to log into $SHITTY_APP on a third-party server with his Facebook username and password, so his credentials can be stolen as they're passed through? Or are you going to try to set up trust between Facebook proper and every two-bit Redbull embedded flash application being written by a horde of bored undergrads?

Compartmentalization of user credentials can be kind of a pain from the user's perspective, sure, but it beats the hell out of requiring a server on the tubes to trust other servers, when you've opened the free-for-all...
posted by Mayor West at 6:16 AM on May 25, 2007


Mayor West, look into openid. You log into one server, you claim credentials from that server, then the site that wants to authenticate you checks whether you're logged in to that particular server (so yeah, the openid client has to trust your openid server to properly say whether you're logged in with them or not). Making facebook an openid server would be interesting.

I agree with delmoi that facebook is really an apex webapp, the people who work on it are extraordinarily clued-in in all sorts of ways.
posted by Firas at 7:11 AM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


And I agree with spiderwire that I want even more control. Like I don't want my family seeing my making remarks in a facebook note that's totally different from the identity I present to them, or pics etc. To some extent of course human relationships can deal with the dissociation but there's no need for software to force you to limit your expression only to universally dignified stances.
posted by Firas at 7:16 AM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Compartmentalization of user credentials can be kind of a pain from the user's perspective, sure, but it beats the hell out of requiring a server on the tubes to trust other servers, when you've opened the free-for-all...

Well, let's put it this way - the more steps you put into a signup process, the less likely users are to complete that process. This is more than 'kind of a pain.' It's an app-killer. Say that I want to leverage Facebook to add social networking functionality to my site. If people have to create two seperate, unconnected accounts on my site and on Facebook, I can pretty much guarantee that people won't do it. People are sick of making stupid accounts on websites - I know that I am. Likewise, if you have to login to two seperate websites, that makes it less likely that people will do it.

Until more sites start offering single-login and login-passthgouh options, they'll never truly interoperate.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:17 AM on May 25, 2007


> Methinks your sarcasm meter needs a version update.

I must have missed the obvious indicator.
posted by holycola at 9:53 AM on May 25, 2007


Afroblanco:

This is something that people are only beginning to realize, and I've been watching the "web 2.0" and digital identity for a while, and right now there's a problem of very few people caring and actually writing code.

If you want to do further work/research into this, look into combining a URL-based identity with OpenID, Friend Of A Friend (XML friendslist), and some level of semantic metadata like Microformats. The combination of the three equals distributed social networking, completely depreciating the purpose of Myspace/Facebook. There are a lot of other services that can be depreciated with this, if you have a single namespace (in this case a URL), you can build things like trust on top of it and take out the major selling point in using eBay (why isn't my eBay bidding history portable?).

Three years from now, I want a single (or mutiple for privacy reasons) URL(s) for synchronized contact lists between all my services and devices, a single accessor for myself (think messaging, instant messaging, phone) through a URL instead of tons of different identifiers (email, IM, phone number), I want a trust framework so I can buy from tiny botiques online, I want to be able to tell different sites things about myself for them to help me out better, and I want all of this under a privacy framework that exclusively suits my needs. If things move at the current pace, I doubt it'll happen in three years, though.

Personal information and the web itself is moving towards this space and there really aren't enough people thinking about what it means in the long run in terms of providing metadata about yourself and ultimately automation of many aspects of your life.
posted by amuseDetachment at 1:11 PM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I must have missed the obvious indicator.

It's called a tag now. Get with the times, dude.
posted by spiderwire at 8:08 PM on May 25, 2007


Have you tried Picknik photo editor/w.2.0? They just added Facebook integration...

Tried it now. You can only move one photo at a time, so not really what I am looking for.
posted by grouse at 3:40 AM on May 30, 2007


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