The War for Your User Profile

You also spend the first half hour of your day logging into a dozen different social network accounts, e-mails and blogs? You are certainly not alone, and the big Internet companies know that too. Therefore, Google, Facebook and MySpace are developing applications to gather more user profile information with respectively Data Availability, Facebook Connect, and Friend Connect. ‘We cannot retain you, so we’d better retain your user information’ seems to be the reasoning.

The social networks, like Facebook and Myspace embrace the idea of making user data more or less portable in order to keep users from having to import/export friend and profile information from one site to another. Just portable enough though. Just portable enough so that when you’re not on Facebook/Myspace, you still carry out the brand name to wherever you go online. With data that is too partable, they would lose control over you and that’s exactly the issue between Facebook and Google.

Google, has no social network from itself but operates with Friend Connect as a middleman for user profile information. Friend connect basically gathers user information that can be given to third party sites that want to add social elements to their site. The user keeps his information on his existing account, but joins ‘Friend Connect to make the info portable. Good idea, you would think, but Facebook didn’t agree.

The Facebook API blocked the Friend Connect application yesterday, as Facebook doesn’t want Google to run around the Internet with their users’ profiles. Without control over the end destination of user information, Facebook is keeping the door closed and only works with it’s own Terms and Conditions. Google counters this reasoning mentioning the’ un-link’ possibility for different networks, but for the moment Facebook still looks like a solid fortress.

But who’s information are we talking about? True, your information. So what’s your opinion? Should a user be free and decide for himself whether to join Friend Connect and share his profile and friends? Are do you believe Facebook’s concerns about your privacy?  The answers are divided about this one, and there is more at stake than just user privacy for these big companies, but with Facebook in a profitable postion, the battle will surely continue…

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