Friendster Hitches Onto Facebook Platform

Social-networking pioneer Friendster is striking an agreement with rival Facebook to roll out support for Facebook’s developer standard.

Now, developers that build applications through either Facebook or the OpenSocial standard will be able to easily port them to Friendster.

“Tens of thousands of developers can now introduce the applications and features they’ve built on the Facebook Platform to Friendster’s 80 million users around the world,” the company wrote in a blog post. “Friendster is the first major social network and social Web site of any kind to deploy both the OpenSocial and Facebook de facto industry standards for the benefit of Friendster users and the developer community.”

That may be a dubious claim, given that Bebo, the social network now owned by AOL, supports both standards.

In any event, Friendster’s announcement is yet another indication that openness and interoperability are fast becoming the watchwords of the social networking community. Increasingly, developers expect open APIs that enable them to cross-pollinate their applications across multiple online communities.

The so-called “platform wars” began last December, when Facebook first announced that it would provide documentation for developers to propagate their apps to sites like Bebo. Three months later, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) spun off its OpenSocial project into the nonprofit OpenSocial Foundation, with Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) and MySpace as founding members.

Then in May, Facebook moved to further open to developers by releasing the source code behind the major pillars of its platform, including the Facebook API, Facebook Markup Language (FBML), Facebook Query Language (FQL) and Facebook Javascript (FBJS).

This year also saw a flurry of announcements from Google, MySpace, Yahoo and Facebook touting interoperability — essentially, the idea that the profile a person creates on one site should be able to communicate with profiles on other sites.

In that sense, Friendster’s move is very much in keeping with the times, even if the site is often overlooked with Facebook and MySpace dominating the discussion of social networking these days.

However, the community that in many ways paved the way for MySpace is quick to remind visitors that it still matters. Friendster reports that it gained more than 30 million users in the past year, with 100,000 new members signing up each day. In terms of registered users, comScore ranks Friendster the world’s third-largest social network behind Facebook and MySpace.

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