Is Facebook Anti-Social if they’re not OpenSocial?


From the ‘Do As We Say, Not As We Do‘ files:

Facebook is THE site now for social collaboration with 500 million plus users. From a technical collaboration perspective though, is Facebook ‘socializing’ as it should?

Last week I wrote a story about Apache Shindig 2.0, an implementation of the OpenSocial standards. OpenSocial is a set of open standards designed to help enable developers and social sites collaborate around widgets and content.

While a number of big online players including Google and LinkedIN support OpenSocial, Facebook does not.

Why is that? Is Facebook anti-social when it comes to tech collaboration?

I actually got a statement from the fine PR people at Facebook after I had published my story about their official position on OpenSocial.

“While Facebook does not work with OpenSocial,
our Platform is built on a number of standards,” Facebook stated. “The most recent being
OAuth 2.0 which we’re working actively within the IETF to develop along
with a number of other companies and individuals.”

True — Facebook does use a number of key web standards (who doesn’t?), and they do also have a stake in open source technologies including MySQL, PHP, Cassandra and dozens of others.
“We’re focused on helping developers build great social
applications which means we make technology decisions based on what will
be good for developers,” Facebook stated. “Generally, we believe that the future of an
open and social Web will be measured not by protocols, but by how much
we collectively improve the standards and technologies that enable us
and others to give people more powerful ways to share and connect.”

Again, this makes good sense. But wouldn’t adopting OpenSocial fall into the above category of improving ways for developers to share and connect?

Facebook leverages open source and open standards for its own benefit, as do others. However, I also think that they’ve got such a large platform now, that they will continue to do things that keep people on their platform. OpenSocial as such represents a potential risk as widgets are cross-platform and might be able to draw traffic away from Facebook, instead of always to it.

I understand why OpenSocial might not make sense for Facebook from a business perspective, not so much from a developer one. Then again, Facebook is so much more massive than any other social network at this point, does it really matter? Developers will target Facebook, regardless of whether or not they use OpenSocial or not.

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