How Facebook Connect Points the Way Towards Velvet Rope Networks

Look at this screen capture from the DEMO Live implementation of Facebook Connect:

Demo Live

Make Social Sites Easily With Facebook Connect

I’ve seen similar from CNN.com, from Fancast (client), and others. This integration is happening quite often. I think there’s something more to it.

What’s been accomplished here is pretty interesting. Facebook is saying “don’t bother building a social network from the ground up. Just use everyone’s existing Facebook profile with your special event/project.” This makes building an event experience really simple, provided that your users are already Facebook customers, and with millions of these, it’s a more likely event these days. It means, though, that you’re giving up a lot of information and control (and not in the easiest-to-accept ways).

The Drawbacks

Though there are advantages to using Facebook Connect for integration, there are some drawbacks, mostly from the marketer’s point of view. If you build out a social network project using Facebook Connect, Facebook gets all the information and you get none. You don’t get a database of users. You don’t get a way to message people participating in your event, except for “in stream,” the way everyone else is using the app. You don’t have any sense of demographics, nor any control abilities to block trolls or other unwanted types.

What I Want Instead

Instead of Facebook Connect, where Facebook gets to keep all the data, makes you relinquish all the control, and leaves you with only the “gooey content center” on your side of the proposition, I think someone will soon create a “universal profile.” This profile will allow me to choose what I expose to whom, with something like a “profile view” for various facets of my persona (work, life, clubs, family, etc). Thus, this key (and no, it’s not exactly OpenID, but that’s close) will allow me to slot into various content spaces, not unlike the DEMO conference above, such that the event organizer gets a sense of who I am, and I feel comfy sharing some level of my credentials.

I think Facebook Connect is the first obvious implementation of this. I don’t think it’s what really comes out in the long run. Instead, it’s a good model from which to implement, to improvise, and improve.

What do you think?

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