Facebook Connect - a Few Concerns

I’ve recently been working on an Innovative Business academic paper, which turned my attention to Facebook Connect. Sans boring you with the details, I’ve a few natural alarm bells ringing with the service:

  • We are heralding this as ‘new thinking’ and ‘innovative’, yet I can’t help but see it as a power grab. Widespread adoption of the Connect service makes Facebook the de-facto login standard on many websites. Could this stop some users from joining non-connect affiliated websites?

  • Connect may provide Facebook with the ability to track external(off-site) user movement and thus better target ads. I’m all for well targeted ads but this raises privacy concerns (and Facebook are not known for their strength in user privacy).

  • I also worry because Facebook has a history of bullying smaller companies (see the case against Brazilian ‘Power’). Power allowed people to view snippets of Facebook feeds on the Power website. Facebook claim this caused irreparable damage and can steal user bases (yet ironically, Facebook gains many users via automatically inviting Gmail / MSN friends). Jumping to litigation was their first response with Power – can smaller companies adopting connect afford hat?

  • Facebook have recently joined the OpenID board. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, given they are competing services. We can talk about cooperation all we want, if Facebook users adopt OpenID, Facebook loses money.

I am not totally against Connect. It is a great service, and I have even implemented it on this blog. However, with Facebooks reputation for poor privacy controls (remember Beacon?) I do worry about the long term direction..just a little!