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Friday, July 25, 2008

Private social network Facebook to go Web wide

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, gestures while delivering the keynote address during the annual Facebook f8 developer conference in San Francisco, Wednesday, July 23, 2008. Facebook announced that 24 Web sites and applications have joined its efforts to make the Web more open and connected through Facebook Connect

The leader of a youth movement that swept the world this past year by encouraging Web users to share bits of their lives with selected friends spoke on Wednesday of spreading his service across the Web, even while apologizing for past excesses.

Mark Zuckerberg, 24, told an audience of 1,000 industry executives, software makers, media -- and his mother and father -- at Facebook's annual conference of how the company's features will run on affiliated sites outside its own.

"Facebook Connect" will transform the social network from a private site where activity occurs entirely within a "walled garden" to a Web-wide phenomenon where software makers, with user permission, can tap member data for use on their sites.

Facebook Connect is our version of Facebook for the rest of the Web," Zuckerberg told the second annual F8 conference.

Facebook, begun in 2004 as a socializing site for students at Harvard University, has seen its growth zoom to 90 million members from 24 million a little over a year ago, overtaking rival MySpace to become the world's largest social network.

It has lured 400,000 developers to build programs for it since opening up its site in May 2007. Now Facebook is letting designers build software on affiliated sites, for mobile phones or as services that tap desktop applications like Microsoft's Outlook e-mail system. It said that in coming months it would let designers building software for Facebook simultaneously create versions for Apple Inc's iPhone.

"As time goes on, less of this movement is going to be about Facebook and the platform we have created and more about the applications other people have built," Zuckerberg said. "This year, we are going to push for parity between applications on and off Facebook."

Facebook to share its logins with other sites, wants better apps

At its annual F8 developer conference Wednesday, Facebook unveiled a system like OpenID where users can login to other sites with their Facebook account. It also rolled out new tools to help developers create better applications.

Available in the fall, Connect will allow users of Facebook to take their identities with them across partner sites. 24 websites and applications have already announced their support for the initiative, including Digg, Six Apart, and Citysearch.

Essentially, the offering looks much like OpenID, where a single login is used across all participating sites. For example, Digg users can choose to login with a Facebook identity, and when a user diggs a story, it can appear in their mini-feed.

Responding in advance to expected concerns about security and privacy, Facebook noted that users would be able to trust the sites that would be participating in the unified login process, as well as ensure their privacy preferences follow them on each of the partner sites.

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