Open ID…Data Portability… seamless integration or lack of control?

This week’s announcements from MySpace, Facebook, and Google about their respective launches of Data Availability, Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect gives us a preview into the next evolution of web connectivity. To marketers it’s a amazing leap forward in being able to 1) tap into audiences behaviourally across mutliple social networking platforms 2) develop more efficient media strategies where previous fragmentation has been unable to capture user behaviour outside of individual walled sites 3) and, in essence, provide much richer data for targetting strategies.

It didn’t take long, however for today’s news to arise: Facebook rejecting Google’s Friend Connect. Already, concerns about privacy are arising. As great as it is from a business perspective, the idea of Open I.D. raises a lot of concerns about how my data, as a user will be used. Yeah, I love the fact that I can register and create my profile only once and allow my data to flow with me as I surf from one site to another but it begs the question of control. The reason that fragmentation exists is that the user has the option to maintain mutliple identities/personas across multiple sites. Friend lists will differ depending on the purpose of my presence on certain sites. Maybe my profile on scribd as a “health guru” does not necessarily want to integrate with my political profile on jibjab. My professional linkedin friends should have access to my blogspot and my twitter but not my facebook. The point is: only I should have control on who sees my stuff and which friends I want interacting with me wherever I go. Giving this control to Facebook, Google or MySpace, for that matter, gives up my right and my control over my data.

Facebook is already noticing the impacts of cross-pollinating users/friends from one platform to another. Privacy concerns must weigh in especially since each platform has its own policies for its users. It will be interesting how this will be architectured cross-platformed to give users full disclosure and opt-out control if they so choose.

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