Facebook will allow you to export your friends list

I don’t usually repeat news as it happens, but this is potentially massive.  From Techcrunch UK:

In a major move Facebook, Google and Plaxo are effectively ending their policy of keeping users locked-in to their social networks. As TechCrunch US reports, today Facebook, Google and Plaxo have joined the DataPortability Workgroup, implying that users will soon be allowed to export their contacts from one social network to another

Suddenly the Scoble Facebook fight seems a bit irrelevant!

I’m not sure how this fits with OpenSocial, but seeing as Google is in both I guess they won’t conflict.

As a recap, this is big news because it changes the winner takes all dynamic of the social networking industry.  When friends weren’t portable between networks it was natural that everyone gravitated to a small number of sites, but with portability and some integration it will become much easier for everyone to live in multiple niche sites, which more accurately reflects what we do in the real world.

  • Joining a standards workgroup is not at all the same thing as saying that Facebook will allow you to export your friends list, at least not anytime soon. It could just as easily mean that Facebook have joined to gain the PR benefit of seeming “open”, only to monitor the workgroup’s activity, and then slow it down to a crawl with various proposals and amendments until everyone has forgotten about the initial PR – this is a tactic widely used within other standards groups and could easily happen in this case, where all the major players are arch-competitors.

  • Joining a standards workgroup is not at all the same thing as saying that Facebook will allow you to export your friends list, at least not anytime soon. It could just as easily mean that Facebook have joined to gain the PR benefit of seeming “open”, only to monitor the workgroup’s activity, and then slow it down to a crawl with various proposals and amendments until everyone has forgotten about the initial PR – this is a tactic widely used within other standards groups and could easily happen in this case, where all the major players are arch-competitors.

  • We’re certainly smiling broadly here at Blog Friends. ; )

  • We’re certainly smiling broadly here at Blog Friends. ; )

  • nic

    Good point Alan. It will be interesting to see if they all mean it, or whether we will descend into the sorts of standards fudge we have seen in other areas of tech.

  • nic

    Good point Alan. It will be interesting to see if they all mean it, or whether we will descend into the sorts of standards fudge we have seen in other areas of tech.

  • Looking forward to seeing how Alan’s point plays out.

    Nic, you say you’re “not sure how this fits with OpenSocial”. I am very eager to hear more on this topic as you learn more. Some have oversimplified this by saying OpenSocial allows apps to move from site to site whereas Dataportability allows data to move from site to site.

  • Looking forward to seeing how Alan’s point plays out.

    Nic, you say you’re “not sure how this fits with OpenSocial”. I am very eager to hear more on this topic as you learn more. Some have oversimplified this by saying OpenSocial allows apps to move from site to site whereas Dataportability allows data to move from site to site.