Quite a bit has been made recently of the changes to Facebook’s default settings, an extensive expansion of how Facebook shares data with other Web sites, and how all that works within the traditional expectation — if not the fundamental understanding — most people have about privacy.
Facebook’s recent change to, by default, share public user information with partner Web sites — namely, Microsoft’s Docs.com, Internet radio provider Pandora and city-based business review site Yelp — is “building a largely closed, alternative version of the Internet,” or, in plainer language, “a power grab.”
This argument is further (and ironically) strengthened by Facebook’s announcement at the recent f8 developer conference that it is switching from its proprietary Facebook Connect login system to OAuth, the soon-to-be-a-standard, open Web site authentication protocol. In so doing, the fabled idea of the “single sign-on” for all Web sites becomes less pipe dream and more within reach — with Facebook the linchpin, and by inference, the one link that can’t be removed from the chain.
In other words, Facebook is a 1998-vintage AOL that doesn’t suck.
That’s not a bad thing. Actually, it’s a great thing.