Facebook Comments Box Plugin Now Accepts AOL for Login

The recently released version of Facebook’s Comments Box social plugin for third-party websites now accepts AOL accounts for login. Initially the plugin only allowed Facebook and Yahoo! for login, though we discovered there was live code for Twitter and Google logins present but inactive.

The additional login option will make the Comments Box accessible to a larger user base, but some might say that AOL’s willingness to be a login option is a signal that is has accepted its fate as a second-tier identity provider.

It appears that Facebook is reaching Comments Box login agreements with sites who have reciprocated by allowing Facebook as a login option on their sites or services. AOL allows users to sign in to it’s AIM instant messaging and some other service  with Facebook, and Yahoo! recently enabled Facebook as a login and account registration option across its properties.

The Comments Box has brought up a difficult question for the web’s largest services and social networks. By refusing to be a Comments Box login option, they force their users to employ another service provider’s credential in order to comment, but they in turn don’t have to permit Facebook as a login option. This allows them to own the registration information of anyone benefiting from their services.

On the other hand, by agreeing to Facebook’s terms and becoming a Comments Box login option, their users won’t have to choose another’s service credentials, but they usually must permit Facebook to colonize their site with its own login buttons.

Facebook is winning the identity game, and Yahoo! and AOL both now seem to have folded. The question remains whether Google or Twitter will concede to Facebook’s terms, work out a more evenhanded deal, or if they’ll continue to stay autonomous and try to themselves become the premier online ID.

[Thanks to David Sanger for the tip.]

Facebook Comments Box Plugin Includes Live Code for Google and Twitter Logins

The new version of the Comments Box social plugin for third-party websites that Facebook released last week only gives users the options to login with their Facebook or Yahoo! accounts. However, we’ve just learned that the plugin includes live code supporting logins for accounts from Google, Twitter, and other OpenID providers. This means it might be easy for Facebook to enable logins from additional providers if its relations with these companies improve.

Facebook apparently pulled the public options to use Twitter or Google credentials at the last minute. Facebook recently clashed with Google over data portability and whether users should be able to export email addresses of their Facebook friends to Gmail. Twitter released an app in June that allowed users to see which of their Facebook friends tweet, but a disagreement between the companies led Facebook to block this functionality.

The only legitimate alternative login option to Facebook is Yahoo, which recently began allowing visitors to its network of sites including Yahoo News and Flickr to register for Yahoo accounts or sign in using their Facebook credentials.

Yahoo’s inclusion in the Comments Box could be a repayment for this favor, a sign that Facebook doesn’t consider Yahoo a threat, or the result of it signing some terms or deal with Facebook. Those logged in to the plugin through Yahoo don’t display a profile picture or link back to their account, though, making their comments appear inferior to those from Facebook users.

Modifying the Comments Box

By adding a line of Javascript, Google, Twitter, and other login options can be enabled. Adding  MultiLoginPopup.setProvider('google.com'); initiates the Google OAuth flow, and document.getElementsByClassName(“submitButton”)[0].click() lets users comment from their Google accounts.

A similar code snippet  MultiLoginPopup.setProvider('twitter'); can be used to attempt a Twitter login. This relies on a call to www.facebook.com/connect/twitter_login.php , which is currently unaccessible, causing the authentication to fail. MySpace and other OpenID providers can be enabled by substituting  ’myspace’, ‘myopenid’ or ‘pip.verisignlabs’ for Twitter or Google.

Note that Facebook prohibits modification of the Like button and its other social plugins. Facebook told us that “to provide a consistent and easily identifiable experience across the web, social plugins may not be altered beyond options that are already documented.” Developers should know that they add this JavaScript at their own risk and could be punished.

To provide a consistent and easily identifiable experience across the web, social plugins may not be altered beyond options that are already documented.”

The fact that this live code was left in the plugin means Facebook may be looking optimistically towards its future relations with other web service giants. Legitimate support for these credentials would open commenting on third-party sites that have implemented the plugin to a wider audience, improving discussion.

The Comment Box’s lack of an anonymous login option discourages low quality comments and trolls, though it may also discourage valuable but controversial comments users might not want their friends to associate with them.

Allowing Google as a login option could permit slightly more anonymous commenting, as many users’ Google accounts aren’t as deeply connected to their friends. Allowing users to comment from a widely held account that is tied to their real identity, but not necessarily their entire social graph, could lead to more heated debate without opening the floodgates to abuse.

Facebook could but doesn’t currently provide a way to limit on a comment-by-comment basis the visibility to friends of comments syndicated from the plugin to a user’s news feed. In the absence of such privacy controls, there’s an increased need for an authenticated but disconnected commenting option.

[Thanks to Tom Waddington for the tip.]

Facebook’s New Comments Box Plugin Filters Website Comment Reels by Relevance

Facebook has released a major update to its embeddable Comments Box social plugin for third-party websites. The plugin processes social signals to surface the most relevant comments, and a new moderation dashboard allows admins to block profanity and other objectionable content. Users can login to the plugin with their Facebook or Yahoo! credentials, and comments are published to a user’s wall by default, driving traffic to the website.

With these enhancements, Facebook’s Comments Box plugin is ready to compete with WordPress comments, Disqus, IntenseDebate, and other embeddable comment systems. By powering their comment reels with the authenticated identity of Facebook profiles instead of allowing anonymous comments, websites can increase the quality discussion, repel trolls, and not require Facebook users to register for a proprietary commenting account.

Facebook has been tweaking this new version of the Comments Box plugin and testing it on the Facebook Blog and Developers Blog for months, trying a voting system before settling on using Likes to gauge a comment’s credibility. Web publishers can now configure their plugin and copy the one-line embed code from the Comments documentation page into their site for easy implementation. The plugin is already live on several sites across internet, including this one.

The Comments Box plugin is a solid choice for most websites except those where discussions might include sensitive information. There is no option to comment anonymously, leaving no outlet for a whistleblower who wants to secretly offer a news tip or a victim who wants to tell a personal story. However, in most cases, preventing anonymity leads commenters to be more civil, and consider what they’re writing before they publish under their real name.

Social Relevance and Identity

The most innovative improvement is employing social relevance to order comments differently for each user instead of showing everyone the same reverse chronological order. Comments by a viewer’s friends, friends of friends, as well as the most Liked comments and active reply threads will appear higher in the stack. Meanwhile, comments marked as spam or reported as abusive by other users will be hidden from public view and left for a moderator to address.

Details about each commenter from their profile appear next to their name, giving other visitors context about them and deepening the site’s sense of community. According to a commenter’s privacy settings, their mutual friends, job title, work place, age, or current city may appear beside their comments to those permitted to see that information, giving other visitors a feel for their perspective.

Moderation Tools

Once embedded on a website, admins can access the Comment Moderation Tool. This dashboard allows them to visit the page on which a comment was made, Like it, approve it, hide the comment from public view, or ban the user from commenting on their site. Hidden comments still appear to the friends of those commenters.

The moderation flow is slighly less streamlined than some WordPress commenting plugins. There’s no quick link to reply, adding friction to moderating questions. There’s also no way for admins to edit user comments. This prevents subjective censorship, but it also stops admins from altering comments that mix insight with objectionable content, or from protecting naive commenters who post contact information. Comments Box doesn’t handle linkbacks, so admin will have to process those separately.

The moderation settings allow admins to add other admins or moderators, use a standard keyword blacklist, create a custom blacklist, set common grammar mistakes to be auto-corrected, and permit or deny third-party logins. They can also set the moderation mode to “Make every post visible to everyone by default” or “Let me approve each comment before it’s shown to everyone”.

Comment Syndication and Notifications Increase Traffic

A “Post to Facebook” box appears checked by default when users compose a comment. The wall post and news feed story generated by this feature helps web publishers generate leads from the networks of their commenters. Page admins can also use this feature to syndicate their comments on websites to their Page’s wall. Combined with the full stories and images that are now published when users click Like buttons, users should begin seeing considerably more content from third-party website content in their news feeds.

When a user’s friends see the wall post or news feed story, they don’t have to visit the website to join the conversation. When users go to comment on the post or story, a “Comment on [website]” button appears, informing them their comment will be automatically syndicated to the website’s comments reel. Posts, stories, and the Comments Box plugin on the website all stay synced, no matter where comments are made.

To encourage return visits from past commenters, they’ll see Facebook notifications with links back to the website when their Comments Box plugin comments are replied to. Facebook doesn’t typically link notifications off-site, so this is a big opportunity for sites with active comment reels to increase return visits.

There’s one other subtle benefit of the Comments Box plugin to web publishers. Traditionally, if a troll or abusive commenter disrupted conversation on a site, the only thing admins could do was ban them internally, which had little repercussions for the trouble maker. But with the Comments Box plugin, spam, abuse, and ban reports all go to Facebook. If a user gets too many of these reports, they could have their Facebook account terminated, severing all their friend connections. Most users aren’t willing to risk this type of modern social ruin, and are therefore less likely to comment abusively.

Right for Many

By offering websites improved civility and relevance on their comment reels, increased referral traffic, and custom moderation tools, the new version of the Comments Box plugin should attract many additional web publishers. These factors may outweigh shortcomings, such as the lack of support for Google or Twitter login credentials, and no option to forgo social relevance and display a real-time reverse chronological stream of comments.

Though not appropriate for all sites, the innovative use of social data and inherent benefits of authenticated identity will help evolve the state of commenting across the internet. Instead of overflowing with rants by strangers, comment reels could become a place to rationally discuss content with existing friends and meet new ones.

Update: Thanks to our commenters for pointing out some other issues with the Comments Box plugin. Users wouldn’t be able to comment if their work place or country blocks Facebook. There’s no easy way for admins to archive or migrate comments to another system. Also, comments by users logged in through Yahoo! show no profile picture or link back to their profile, making them appear obviously inferior to those by people logged in through Facebook.

To try out the updated Comments Box plugin, click the “Add Comment” link at the top of this post, or look for the comment entry field beneath the “Leave a Reply” headline at the bottom of this post.

Crowdflower Labor-On-Demand Releases API, Partners with TrialPay

Crowdflower, a labor-on-demand provider who routes tasks from companies with labor needs to crowdsource markets like Gambit and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, recently released an API and have begun working with online payment platform TrialPay. In hopes of being able to track reputation and quality scores for crowdsource workers across marketplaces, Crowdflower is also looking to employ a social login such as Facebook.

We spoke with Lukas Biewald on Monday at Crowdflower’s crowdsourcing work meetup, held in the company’s San Francisco office, about some of these new developments. First, the company has added Trialpay as a crowdsource labor pool. Since Trialpay is one of the first alternative payment options for Facebook Credits, this partnership could potentially allow crowdsource laborers to earn Credits for their work. It could be especially useful for younger social gamers who might not have a credit card or a source of income necessary to pay for offers like magazine subscriptions or to purchase Credits directly.

A new API from Crowdflower allows anyone to embed available crowdsource labor tasks into their site or application. The RESTful API allows for automated interaction with the Crowdflower platform, using URL-encoded key value pairs and JSON responses to perform functions such as notifying users when completed tasks have been judged.

Lastly, Biewald described his desire to get the crowdsource industry using a social login such as the Facebook Login plugin. If crowdsource laborers signed in through Facebook, Crowdflower could track their performance and create persistent reputation profiles. High-quality workers could then instantly tackle more difficult, high pay tasks if they started working through a new marketplace. Meanwhile, inaccurate, flaky workers would be unable to hide from their poor past performance by switching crowdsource employers. It would also facilitate another dream of Biewalds’: to see Crowdflower reputation ratings included in job applicant résumés.

Looking forward, Biewald said they are thinking about potential integrations with the Facebook Credits system. We’ll have more details on that as they become available. To learn more about Crowdflower’s features, pricing and clients, check out their Slideshare.

Gigya Releases Stats On Social ID Use, Talks About Facebook’s News Feed

Gigya, a company that has transformed from widget-maker to social media optimization service, has released a new infographic detailing which social IDs people use most frequently to login to different types of Gigya-optimized websites. Facebook leads with 46% of Gigya logins across all sites, and was also the top social ID for entertainment and business to business sites.

However, Facebook trails Twitter for news site logins with 25% to the microblogging network’s 45%. One should not draw conclusions from this data since there’s no explanation of methodology or notes on the quantity or percentage of total users that employ social IDs. Yet, interestingly, it seems to show ties between certain social communities and content types.

We spoke with Gigya CEO David Yovanno to get some more context about what’s happening in the Social ID ecosphere. He explained that as social becomes a larger source of referral traffic, sites will need to optimize for it in the same way that they have for search in the past. Yovanno says a major thing they’ve learned from their data is that “in different content environments people choose different platforms to connect through.” For instance, “in retail users may be less social during the checkout phase, preferring Google and Yahoo!, whereas for entertainment, which is more chatty, they choose Facebook”.

A key finding of Gigya’s data analysis is the prevalence of Twitter as a social ID on the news sites Gigya powers such as Reuters. We believe this might be due to Twitter’s interest-focus being more conducive to news sharing than Facebook’s geography-focused network, and update frequency norms permitting more posts per day on Twitter than Facebook. Yovanno said Gigya isn’t sure but they are very interested in learning the root of this trend, and have hired an outside research firm to analyze the subject.

They’ve also found that inclusive but curated social login options produce the best results. If your site needs email addresses, you might want to downplay LinkedIn and Twitter social IDs which don’t provide that. By making the login buttons for platforms which provide data a site wants as prominent as possible, designers can corral users to their advantage. Then by adding a “More” button which reveals all the other platforms, including international ones, they can be sure to have a social ID login option for everyone.

Lastly, Yovanno revealed that the type of API that a third-party site uses to let users share to Facebook influences content’s “EdgeRank,” the algorithm that determines what content appears in the news feed. He said that referral traffic for links shared through the outdated REST API was approximately 1/3 of that for content shared through a client-side API. EdgeRank favors client-side API content because its news feed publishing permission request is more explicit than that of the REST API where it’s easier to trick users into sharing. This news should incentivize anyone still using the REST API to upgrade. If sites want to drive leads, increase conversions, and get the best EdgeRank for shared content, they must be concerned with on-site social optimization, social ID login design, and which API they’re using.

Facebook Launches OpenID Support for Web.de and GMX in Germany

openidlogofblogosmallFacebook has just launched support for OpenID authentication with German email providers Web.de and GMX, Frankfurter Allgemeine reports.

Now, once users link their Facebook account to a Web.de or GMX email address, they’ll be automatically logged in when they go to Facebook after having logged into that service. Facebook said earlier this year that in user testing, users who register through OpenID actually get engaged with Facebook more quickly than others.

It’s Facebook’s first step toward supporting OpenID with European email providers. Earlier this year, Facebook joined the OpenID board of directors as a corporate sustaining member, and one month later launched OpenID login support with Gmail. Just yesterday, OpenID advocate David Recordon announced he would be joining the company next week to head up Facebook’s open standards initiatives.

facebook-germany

Facebook’s audience has been growing steadily this year. The above image from Frankfurter Allgemeine shows Facebook’s growth in reach [top graph translation: "Reach (in Millions of Users)"], but apparent decreases in time spent [bottom graph translation: "Time Spent (in Hours per Week)"]. Facebook’s advertiser numbers report 71% audience growth in the last quarter, to over 3.6 million monthly active users in Germany.

“We are really happy to partner with the best internet company in Germany”, said Javier Olivan, who works in international business development for Facebook.

However, Olivan said the company will not be adding more providers in the near future. “In the short and mid terms we have no plans for further Open ID partnerships in Europe.” We’ll follow up with more.

David Recordon to Join Facebook as Senior Open Programs Manager

david-recordon-facebookDavid Recordon, a long time advocate of “open” technologies and a leader of the OpenID and OAuth movements since their beginning, is joining Facebook, he has confirmed to us. He’ll start work next week as “Senior Open Programs Manager.”  Recordon was most recently a director at Six Apart.

Recordon will continue work on open source and open standards in his new role at Facebook.

“When I look back to two years ago when I re-joined Six Apart, I did so out of an interest in evolving social networking technologies and by working together the industry has made an amazing amount of progress,” Recordon said. “This past year as I’ve worked closer with teams at Facebook, I’ve been impressed by their products, smart people, and innovation.”

Earlier this year, Facebook joined the OpenID board of directors as a corporate sustaining member, and said that users would soon thereafter be able to login to the site via OpenID. One month later, the feature launched.

With Recordon’s hire, Facebook is increasing the amount of “open” DNA in the company. Last year, the company hired Mike Schroepfer from Mozilla, and Facebook has recently been taking steps to allow and encourage users to publish content more openly.

However, Recordon will put a more public face on Facebook’s “open” efforts going forward.

“I hope to build on my past experience in working on making the web more open and useful for everyone,” he says.

2009 fbFund Winner Navify Helping Users Illustrate Wikipedia

navify-logo-2As we continue our discussions with this year’s 2009 fbFund REV winners, we now turn to Navify, an online collaborative encyclopedia that complements Wikipedia articles with images, videos, and comments. We recently spoke with Alan Rutledge, Founder of Navify, on his vision of creating an online encyclopedia that the world can illustrate together.

Inside Facebook: Alan, what’s the problem that Navify addresses?

Alan Rutledge: Wikipedia is a vibrant community. What would Wikipedia look like with complementary media forms? I was fed up with going to a movie article on Wikipedia and not being able to watch the trailer. I’m a very visual person, and so whenever I went on Wikipedia to read up on a topic, there would be no pictures; and I had no idea how to visualize the concept. Basically, we’re adding a rich multimedia layer on top of Wikipedia so you don’t have to go to YouTube, for example, in addition to Wikipedia to get related videos.

navify-logo

You seem to have a lot of entrepreneurial experiences under your belt already. What were you doing before Navify?

alan-photoI was raised in an entrepreneurial environment. My dad used to run the engineering school at Caltech. I began working at startups in high school. At Idealab, I worked on projects related to alternative energy, sterling engines, getting rid of Internet cables, robots, etc. Before doing consulting at BCG, I worked at Microsoft and a mobile photo sharing startup that was bought out by iLike.

Who’s on the Navify team?

I work with two other buddies. We’re a very tiny overworked team right now.

So, what’s your relationship with Wikipedia?

You can use Wikipedia with attribution. Answers.com is a $30 million company that builds content around specific questions. For each answer, it pulls content from Wikipedia. Similarly, with Navify, our platform is possible with YouTube and Flickr’s APIs. At the same time, we’re not trying to substitute Wikipedia; in fact, we drive traffic back to Wikipedia.

How do users interact with Navify right now?

Navify is currently divided into two partitions. The first partition is human edited and is pretty empty right now because we launched only several days ago. The second partition is algorithmic and will always be populated with content. Users can move content, videos for example, back and forth between the human-edited and algorithmic partitions. There’s more noise with the algorithmic one, but with the human-edited one, users are picking and organizing content in meaningful ways.

Notice the Images and Videos tabs next to the Wikipedia article, as well as Comments to the right.

navify-tabs

Richer media forms are a must in today’s Internet culture. Why hasn’t Wikipedia integrated them into its platform yet?

Wikipedia has a strict stance of neutrality. It’s hesitant to integrate with other sites because its community wants to remain neutral. But, in the last two years, most sites have opened their APIs, and the concept of the web as a platform has only begun to capture the public’s mind. Unlike Wikipedia, we plan to operate as a for-profit business. The key will be to find forms of monetization that are useful for end users – like how Google’s sponsored links are providing actual utility to users.

And, how are you leveraging the Facebook Platform on your own platform?

We already have Facebook Connect. In addition to images and videos, we’re building a vibrant reader community around topics of discussion by allowing Navify users to leave comments on articles (via Disqus), which Wikipedia doesn’t do. A Facebook integration comes in handy because your real identity is tied to your comments, which gives you incentive to leave higher quality comments; there are higher social costs to leaving meaningless comments. Contrast this to YouTube: its comment trail is like a bathroom wall. We also support OpenID and Twitter.

navify-connect

Now that you’re in public beta, what trends have you noticed in user behavior?

People like the Related Articles box. They sit and click on articles. It becomes addictive.

navify-related-articles

Are there any other players in your space?

The closest analogy to what we’re doing is FriendFeed, which provides a search and browse experience to let their users share more easily online. None of the content on FriendFeed is original, but users can build discussions around them.

What are your expectations for this summer’s fbFund REV incubator program?

I’m keeping my mind open.

Thanks Alan! Any final thoughts?

One thing I’ll leave you with is that we’re working on a collaborative encyclopedia for the world to illustrate and make more useful for each other. Navify isn’t just a product, it’s a belief. We’re illustrating the world’s knowledge.

Facebook Launches OpenID Support – Users Can Now Login With Gmail Accounts

openidlogofblogosmallLast month, Facebook announced that users would soon be able to login to the site via OpenID. Today, Facebook has officially become an OpenID relying party: users can now register for Facebook using their Gmail accounts and any OpenID provider that supports automatic login. As such, Facebook has become the largest OpenID relying party on the web.

Now, once users link their Facebook account to a Gmail address (or OpenID URL), they’ll be automatically logged in when they go to Facebook after having logged into that service. Facebook says that in its user testing so far, users who register through OpenID actually get engaged with Facebook more quickly than others.

“In tests we’ve run, we’ve noticed that first-time users who register on the site with OpenID are more likely to become active Facebook users. They get up and running after registering even faster than before, find their friends easily, and quickly engage on the site. We’ll continue to integrate more OpenID providers into our registration and account linking flows as they support automatic login,” Facebook says.

To link an existing account with a Google or OpenID account, users can go to their Account Settings page and choose an account in the Linked Accounts section. Yahoo and MySpace are also listed here, but a Facebook prompt says “Note that your accounts from Myspace and Yahoo do not allow for automatic login.”

openid

We recently spoke with Facebook engineer Luke Shepard, who represents Facebook on the OpenID Foundation board, to get his perspective on Facebook’s OpenID integration.

Inside Facebook: Luke, why is Facebook integrating OpenID support?

Luke Shepard: The primary motivation for us is to accept OpenID for new users registering for Facebook. For now, that means through Gmail, though more providers will be coming soon. Google released their address book API a few months ago through OpenID, and we’re using that. The response has been pretty positive so far in our user testing.

In addition, for existing users, we’re offering a feature for you to login automatically if you have an account with an OpenID provider. For example, I have a Gmail account. Every day, I open up my browser and go to Gmail and Facebook, and now you can be automatically logged into Facebook after logging into Gmail.

Which other companies have support coming soon?

Yahoo has been an OpenID provider for over a year and is on the verge of supporting automatic login. Microsoft hasn’t launched as a provider yet, but will sometime. The big three will be covered pretty soon.

What steps did Facebook take to overcome some of the user experience challenges that have hindered OpenID?

One thing we did was we skipped some of the hard part. Probably the most difficult open question in the OpenID community is how do you get a user to register with an OpenID for the first time. We’re skipping that for existing users right now to make sure we get the underlying system working. We’re working on a lot of ideas for how we can present that to the user after we launch – like how to do OpenID login in a popup and keeping users on the page versus sending them off to another site.

We’re a major identity provider with the Facebook Platform and Facebook Connect. We’ve been trying to do a good job on this for apps, and this is a good chance for us to eat our own dogfood with identity and learn what we can do better for apps in the future.

There are very few sites that support the background automatic login in OpenID, but this is a core part of the Facebook Connect experience. Others haven’t done this yet because it’s pretty difficult technically. When designing our OpenID implementation, I was drawing on several Facebook engineers here to learn from how we did various things with Connect. It’s also still rapidly evolving.

Other relying parties will get the cookies, but they’ll usually redirect you to the provider and then you’ll be directed back, but there are a lot of risks with that approach because when you’re a site like us where we’re bigger than almost all the providers were going to be using, it’s important for us not to send them off to a site and have a bad experience.

What other designs have you seen that have worked well?

Currently the best approach out there is what Chris Messina has caleld the “NASCAR” approach (putting a bunch of buttons up for the user to choose). Currently we’re trying to avoid that approach with a couple sidesteps:

  1. For new users who we know have a Gmail account, we can show them one big Gmail button, and we’d like to expand that to other providers.
  2. We’re also letting existing accounts link.

Can users login to sites with Facebook Connect through Gmail and OpenID as well, or just Facebook.com?

Only facebook.com. Right now, we’re trying to get something out to users and figure out what is the smallest set of functionality that we can roll out, because it involves laying a lot of the groundwork from a security perspective. Now that we’ve laid the groundwork there’s a bunch of iterations we can do.

Why have you been such a big internal advocate of OpenID at Facebook?

The company is really big into open standards and open source already from the highest level – Mike Schroepfer came from Mozilla. Basically everything here is open source, like Thrift. It’s not like I’m fighting a battle, I’ve just found that my role is to learn what’s going on in the community and educate what’s going on inside the company.

In the long run, i think we’ll see that open standards are ultimately what win. Part of what we’re trying to figure out is how do we get there and how does our product work with open standards.  Using the popup and doing the background approach aren’t things that the OpenID commuinity hasn’t really pushed yet, but they’re core to the Facebook Connect product. We want to try to help incorporate these back into the OpenID community.

Is the OpenID movement good for Facebook?

I think it’s good for Facebook in two ways. First, registration rates: OpenID clearly makes registration easier for users, which is good for growth. Our growth team tries everything, so I think this will increase our growth rate.

Second, if we participate in open standards and help define them and work to have our innovations contributed, it’s ultimately going to lead to a better product than trying to fight them.

What’s your relationship with Google been like working on this?

We’ve been talking with them to make sure it works well, but we were able to get it working with the public API documentation.

Thanks Luke – any final thoughts?

This is still an early version, and not yet a finished product. There should be more iterations soon.

Facebook Announces Users Will Soon Be Able to Login to Facebook Via OpenID

openidlogofblogosmallLess than three months after joining the OpenID Foundation’s board as a sustaining corporate member (i.e. putting its weight and financial support behind OpenID), Facebook has just announced at the “technology tasting” event this afternoon at its Palo Alto headquarters that users will soon be able to log in to Facebook with their OpenID.

Facebook is becoming what is known as an OpenID “relying party,” meaning users will be able to log in to Facebook with their OpenID from any provider – including Google, Yahoo, AOL, or MySpace. Facebook will automatically check to see if users have logged into any OpenID account when they hit Facebook.com, and give them the option to automatically login to Facebook without entering new information. In addition, users will be able to shortcut the registration flow by authenticating with Facebook using their OpenID.

“We’ve been thinking a lot about the user experience for OpenID. There’s been a lot of experimentation, but federated identity is a complicated problem,” Facebook engineer Luke Shephard said. “Facebook has always relied on external identity. When we looked at OpenID, we asked what is the minimum amount of functionality we could implement to provide some value to users.”

“We believe that the majority of the sharing that’s going to happen in the world isn’t going to be on any one site. That’s why building a platform and having it be interoperable is important for how the web developers and for us strategically,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.

Historically, Facebook has been hesitant to integrate OpenID either as an issuing party or relying party due to the user experience complexities it presents. For example, here’s what OpenID login looks like on Twitterfeed, a popular application for publishing blog post notifications via Twitter:

twitterfeedlogin

Facebook’s announcement is a major bolster to the OpenID movement, which hopes to create an “open, decentralized, free” framework for user identity across the web. The OpenID Foundation was formed in 2007 to help promote the OpenID technologies and community, and is currently governed by 7 community elected board members and 7 corporate board members. Shephard, a “huge internal advocate for OpenID,” serves as Facebook’s representative.

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