Facebook Formalizes Support for OpenID Foundation

By Nicholas Kolakowski

With MySpace and Google releasing similar applications, Facebook has already moved to allow users to port their data around the Web via Facebook Connect. In the next stage of building open distributed-identity frameworks across the Internet, Facebook officially joins the board of the OpenID Foundation.On Feb. 5, Facebook announced that it would join Google, IBM, Microsoft, PayPal, VeriSign and Yahoo as a corporate board member of the OpenID Foundation, an organization formed in June 2007 to promote an open framework for user-centric digital identities on the Web. 

 

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Facebook joins two months after its Facebook Connect, which enables users to sign into other sites using their Facebook user names and passwords, went live. Some 4,000 sites and desktop applications are currently involved in Facebook Connect, and the company claims it has utility for the enterprise.

Facebook Connect offers enterprises “a more robust intranet with social capabilities to interact,” David Swain, manager of platform connections for Facebook, said in an interview. “The enterprise could use their own authentication system and then have their [employees] use Connect from there, or they could use Facebook’s authentication system.” 

Google’s own social networking effort, Google Friend Connect, already uses OpenID as a foundation; the service launched as a beta hours before Facebook Connect on Dec. 4. 

“It is our hope that we can take the success of Facebook Connect and work together with the community to build easy-to-use, safe, open and secure distributed identity frameworks for use across the Web,” Mike Schroepfer, vice president of engineering for Facebook, said in a statement. “As a next step in that effort, we will be hosting an OpenID Design Summit in two weeks here at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto.” 

In Palo Alto, designers from Facebook, the DiSo Project, Google, JanRain, MySpace, Six Apart and Yahoo will discuss how, according to a news post on the OpenID Web site, “existing OpenID implementations could support an experience similar to Facebook Connect.”

Facebook’s representative on the board will be Luke Shepard, a member of Facebook’s Platform and Connect team.

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