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MySpace Escalates Social Web's Arms Race

The one-upmanship continues among the giants of social networking, with MySpace trying to vault ahead of its chief rival with new ways for members to move their identities fluidly to sites across the Web.

The News Corp.-own site today unveiled MySpaceID, an ambitious set of features for porting data and applications back and forth with its partners, which include mobile carrier Vodafone, and NetVibes, a provider of personalized home-page features.

MySpace today also pledged compatibility with a similar identity-portability feature from Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) called Google Friend Connect.

The news comes amid something of an openness arms race being fought among the premier social sites on the Web. Last week, rival social network Facebook took its Facebook Connect feature live, enabling users to port their profile information to sites such as Twitter and Hulu. Earlier the same day, Google opened Friend Connect for general availability.

The latest rapid-fire rollouts repeats the pattern seen in spring, when MySpace, Google and Facebook announced their respective identity-portability products within a week of each other. Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) also unveiled plans for a similar initiative earlier this year.

"We've seen the evolution of the Web move from curated experiences to personalized start pages, and now we're in the age of identity management," MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe said today in a statement.

MySpaceID is a rebranded version of the Data Availability product that MySpace showed off in May with partners including Yahoo and eBay, although those sites have not yet implemented the technology.

The features enable users to find friends and post content from their profiles to partner sites. Forthcoming features include the ability to register for partner sites using a MySpace profile URL, syndicate activity on MySpace to partner sites, and to post activities from those sites back into the user's MySpace profile, the company said.

Facebook Connect already offers the syndication feature and the ability to include users' off-site activities in their Facebook profiles.

MySpaceID also marks the latest offering in MySpace's efforts to embrace openness, fitting into a product suite known as MySpace Open Platform. Other components include the application platform and a post-to-MySpace feature, which will enable users to import content from other sites back to their profiles in the social networking community.

"The MySpace Open Platform frames our vision for the future of the social Web," DeWolfe said.

In addition to its compatibility with Google's Friend Connect, MySpaceID is built on the open identity standards OAuth and OpenID, and on OpenSocial, an online application platform on which programs can run on any social sites that support the standard.

Google led the development of the OpenSocial standard, but eventually spun the project off in a nonprofit foundation with MySpace and Yahoo as charter members.

In contrast, Facebook Connect runs on proprietary standards, and has not been willing to adopt compatibility with Google. OpenSocial also competes with the Facebook Platform.