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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Facebook Connect: The Easy Way Out

Author: Mark Dixon
Sunday, August 17, 2008
5:26 am

Back in the day, when consumer connection to the Internet was in its infancy and some cynics thought online access was just a passing fad, I bought a few shares of AOL stock. It seemed to me that the first company who made it really easy to get and use an online account and email address would grow really rapidly.

I think the value of those shares tripled or quadrupled before I sold them. I should have held on longer.

AOL grew rapidly because they made it easy – really easy – to get on line. You could argue that their version of the Internet was proprietary and walled off, that they were populated with “newbies” who weren’t worthy of the Internet, that a real man wouldn’t be caught dead with an aol.com email address. However, no online access company grew so rapidly or introduced more people to their first Internet experience.

A recent article about FaceBook Connect written by Allan Hoffman of the Star-Ledger got me thinking about AOL’s early growth. Allan proposed that Facebook may become the de facto standard Identity Provider for the Internet:

” … the social networking phenomenon that is Facebook may soon become the keeper of your online identity. …

” … Because Facebook is wildly popular, the service stands a chance of turning your Facebook identity into an uber-identity for the web. Others have tried this, yet none has gained broad enough acceptance to become a de facto standard.

” … You can see the appeal of it. You’re at a site requiring you to sign up for an account. But there’s another option: You can just sign in with your Facebook identity. Unless you’re vigilant about your privacy, you’ll probably opt for the easy way out.”

It was the last four words that struck me. I think the majority of Internet users opt for the easy way out. Not the most secure, not the most technically elegant, not the safest … just the easiest.

All we need is for a few large online sites like Amazon.com or Google to join the 24 web companies that have already announced support for Facebook Connect and voila! Critical mass on both consumer and vendor sides of the equation could trigger mass adoption. The first really successful Identity Provider could be born.

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2 Responses to “Facebook Connect: The Easy Way Out”


    I find it funny that OpenID has been out there for quite awhile, and yet this Facebook Connect business is being talked about like it’s some revolutionary idea. I enjoyed Alan’s comments in the Star Ledger about how Facebook Connect could be the solution to my multiple password problems while OpenID is "pretty geeky." I’ll have to ponder this fine distinction.

    There was a bit of a buzz when Yahoo "sort of" jumped on the OpenID bandwagon. As a Yahoo user, I was excited by this, because I thought I would be able to use my existing OpenID to login to Yahoo. Imagine my surprise when I learned that this wasn’t the case at all. All Yahoo was offering was the ability for me to use my Yahoo ID to login to other sites supporting OpenID. Now I had two OpenIDs!

    I’m a Facebook user, so I may try this, and then I guess I’ll have three OpenIDs. Eventually, perhaps I’ll have an OpenID to replace every online login and password I use!


    PS. I’m very impressed that you read NJ’s Star Ledger. I thought we only read that here in Jersey.

    Comment by Kevin Moulton on August 17, 2008 at 6:49 am

    Hi Kevin:

    Thanks for stopping by. It is going to be interesting to see how this whole Identity Provider space shakes out. I don’t think it is yet clear whether OpenID or some other technology will be the predominate mechanism. It is also unclear what major company will emerge in the role of preferred Identity Provider.

    About the Star Ledger … I’m not exactly sure what led me to the article, but I’m glad to have found it. 🙂

    Comment by Mark Dixon on August 17, 2008 at 7:54 am

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