MySpace Joins eBay, Yahoo in Open Profile Push

MySpace today announced the launch of a new initiative to allow users to export the content within their profiles to third-party sites across the Web.

The Data Availability program, which MySpace plans to take live within the next few weeks, will launch with preliminary partners Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO), eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY), Twitter and Photobucket, but CEO Chris DeWolfe said it will be open to all sites on the Web.

“Today MySpace no longer operates as an autonomous island on the Web,” DeWolfe said during a conference call with reporters. “We’re hoping to create a significantly more social experience across the entire Web.”

Along with the unveiling, MySpace also announced that it is joining the DataPortability Working Group, a growing coalition of developers and Internet companies including Google and Facebook, who are working to enable fluid data exchange between sites through common standards.

That ability to create a more open Web can be found at the heart of several recent announcements from many of the largest Internet companies, most notably Yahoo, which is pinning its turnaround strategy on opening its platform to developers to become the hub of the social Web.

Additionally, company executives took pains to address the troublesome privacy questions that invariably arise with any talk of sharing personal profile information with third-party sites.

“Users will have complete control over what information they share and who they share it with,” COO Amit Kapur said, adding that sharing with other sites will be on a strictly opt-in basis.

MySpace said that profile information will be dynamically shared, so that a user’s addition of a photo or new interest would be spread instantaneously to the partner sites. Likewise, a central data control panel will allow MySpace members to update their sharing preferences to take effect immediately across all the sites.

To ensure that a user’s preferences can be updated in real-time, the executives said that the policy agreements with the partner sites will contain strict limitations on storing and caching the shared profile data.

The Data Availability initiative, which MySpace will offer to all its international users when it goes live, will support the open OAuth standard for creating secure APIs on the partner sites.

The rollout won’t mean that MySpace will begin supporting the OpenID standard, an open, cross-site framework related to OAuth and designed to simplify sharing identities. The standard is one of the initiatives supported by the DataPortability Working Group — though not required for group membership. DeWolfe said MySpace is actively considering OpenID, however.

For partner sites like eBay and Yahoo, access to information voluntarily given by the members of the world’s largest social network could be a gold mine. It could also be another approach toward monetizing the social networking space. Last night, News Corp., MySpace’s parent company, again reported that placing ads on the site was not delivering the results that it hoped.

Today’s announcement also builds on Yahoo’s pledge to support Google’s OpenSocial standard to enable developers’ applications run across all participating platforms, including MySpace.

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