Facebook a platform for friends?

At the risk of contributing to the general hysteria around Facebook at the moment I’ve been thinking that Facebook could become THE PLATFORM for friends across all social apps. 

My thoughts run something like this:

  • I don’t like having to invite new friends every time I join a new social media site
  • Maintaining friends lists across multiple sites is something I never get round to
  • I have a friends list on Facebook that works for me
  • The much vaunted Facebook API could provide an easy answer to this conundrum

I couldn’t find anything on this topic as I googled the web prior to writing this post, so I don’t know if this works, but if social sites made themselves available via a plugin so I could access their functionality within Facebook life would get a lot easier. 

The principal benefits would be that I could immediately see which of my friends are already on the new site (this works already with the Tripadvisor Facebook plugin) and inviting new ones would be less of an ask if they could also see which of their friends was on already.  Even more so if automatic registration using Facebook details was possible (I haven’t seen anything that does that yet).

All of this throws up obvious questions about Facebook dependency and where the value is being built, but it gets over the big problem of all the social apps operating as silos.  There are positive sides to the story as well – the user experience for customers on what I will call the Facebook partner site would be much improved, they would increase growth with Facebook’s distribution, and if they managed to do something similar with Myspace, Bebo etc then the network effects would exist in the partner rather than in Facebook.  Reserving some functionality for the core site (i.e. not putting it in the plugin) would also be a smart move – and in practice this is probably inevitable.

This is a bit of a thought experiment, for which apologies, but the Facebook API throws up some strategy questions that I thought it would be interesting to start looking into.

Your thoughts, as ever, would be appreciated.

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