Facebook is getting ready to take another stab at introducing a Beacon-like feature that allows your Facebook friends to track your Web-whereabouts with a service called Connect. The service is set to launch within a few weeks, according to Facebook.
The Facebook Connect feature will allow participating Connect site owners to share user names and logins. This allows end user to sign into Facebook, for example, and surf over to another participating Connect site and avoid having to create an additional user name and password for access to that site. Another aspect of the Connect feature will update your Facebook Newsfeed with news as to what participating Connect Web sites you've visited. For example, if you "dugg" an article on Digg your Facebook Newsfeed would report this.
This is not the first time Facebook has tried to federate user information across the Web. Last year, Facebook's Beacon advertising program backfired at the company, as the program failed to properly warn users that their activity on partner Web sites was shared on Facebook.
However, this time, Facebook seems to have learned from its previous experience and Connect users will be able to adjust their privacy settings for which actions will be shared on the social network. Besides that, Facebook promises it will be "carefully authorizing" each partner in the Connect program. The new feature will compete with similar offerings from rival social network MySpace and with Google's Friend Connect.
The basics of Facebook 'Connect'
Facebook Connect works in a remote way like OpenID. Basically, using this feature you will be able to access various Web sites without having to create a new profile and tediously enter all your personal data.
And with this new feature, you can also connect your friends to the Web site of choice. As an additional example, if you watch a video on a Web site — such as CBS — you can invite your friends to join in and watch the clip with you.
But the similarities between Connect and OpenID end here. Facebook is using proprietary standards for login and data sharing — in contrast to MySpace — which is embracing OpenID and is also closely collaborating with Google's Friend Connect.
So far, Movable Type, Amiando, CBS.com, CitySearch, CNET, CollegeHumor, Disney-ABC Television Group, Evite, Flock, Kongregate, Loopt, Plaxo, Radar, Red Bull, Seesmic, Socialthing!, StumbleUpon, The Insider, Twitter, Uber, Vimeo, and Xobni have announced participation in the Connect program.
What's in it for me?
Well, in a nutshell, just more flexibility with your personal data when going on new Web sites and the possibility of bringing your Facebook friends along — making the Web more social.
Actually, from a first look at the upcoming Connect feature, there's more to win from Facebook's point of view. While the users will Connect to other Web sites using their Facebook credentials, the social network will gather more information about your likes and dislikes for future advertising purposes, even though it won't be made public — unlike with Beacon. And ultimately, Connect will help Facebook extend its reach — together with partner Web sites — just like Mark Zuckerberg discussed a couple of months ago at the Web 2.0 Conference in San Francisco.