The internet is a hugely disjointed and messy place. How many logins do you have? How many times do you have to enter payment details? There’s only one ‘you’ so it seems ridiculous that you have to do all the leg work on the internet. Companies try to make processes simpler and Microsoft has done a good job of this with its Live accounts. Likewise for Google. Facebook however, is the first to launch itself head first into joining up the dots outside of its own property.
The dream behind Facebook Connect is that it will let you connect your Facebook account to other websites, allowing you to leave comments, buy products, upload pictures and more using a single account. Google has a good grip of the internet at the moment with search, but it’s this level of personal account connectivity that is the Holy Grail. It also puts the fear of god into people because it means one company sets the standard and you have one account for all of your personal information.
Personal information isn’t actually a worry at this stage because Facebook Connect doesn’t go anywhere close to linking your bank account details yet. If it ever does, it will no doubt employ far more secure measures. As from last week what it does allow you to do is post comments on blogs and websites set up to use your Facebook account. These comments also appear within Facebook, so Facebook benefits from attracting more page views for advertising. Content will appear in both places and it will be read by more people however.
There is no doubt in my mind that the internet has to have this kind of functionality to work in the future, but should one company have control of so much data? An interesting question and it isn’t a simple case of ‘no’. We do need a single account, and a company with the right structure could do this. Ideally it would not be a ‘company’ that has total control, but a trustworthy organisation. How does such an organisation raise the money to cover the cost without commercialisation though?
All of this may sound complicated in text, but in practice it tidies up the messy internet a lot. So, this is a hugely important step. It is very early days but the first fruits are filtering their way through. I’ll be keeping my eye on it closely at the IAB, as will the rest of the team, to track its developments and potential. You should too.