Why Facebook Connect won’t be the universal ID platform


I’ve read a few blogs and even a full front page FT article recently that the power of Facebook is that it’s joining up the web as a single ID platform via Facebook Connect.

The theory is that you won’t need to register with hundreds of websites to leave comments, read articles, etc. – just login using Facebook Connect instead.

There are two reasons I don’t think this will work:

  1. The smart (and big) brands will continue to want to own their own data. Most brands want a direct relationship with their consumers (see prediction #10), and for decades have had to let their retailers/ resdellers have that relationship. I don’t see those same brands rolling over and letting the social networks and App stores having a relationship instead.
  2. I don’t necessarily want my professional colleagues to see my personal information (including photos) and updates, or asking me to be their friend via Facebook. We use Facebook Connect on some of our sites, and the first few people who become a ‘Fan’ of a new Facebook Page are then displayed in Facebook widgets on our sites. Those first few fans are inevitably the employees of the brand or our partner agencies.
    Another way of saying this, is that the distinction between personal and work becomes too blurred. And don’t get me started about me being able to administer my own Facebook groups of friends. 
    This might change in the long term. There is a shift for younger employees to use personal electronic devices (especially phones) to connect to work email. Less employees want two computers at home, so they’ll do all their personal tasks on their work laptop. The distinction between work and personal devices will keep blending in the medium to long term.

One alternative is for LinkedIn to become a professional ID and Facebook to be the personal ID. I post professional updates to my LinkedIn profile, and personal ones in Facebook because I have two sets of ‘contacts’ on both platforms, with a small overlap between the two.

Another alternative is for the ID to be Skype. The beauty of Skype at the moment is that it’s portable (across all my devices and computers), secure (users can only login once, and it’s voice encryption is superb) and because it doesn’t store any personal information (especially stag party photos) it’s ideal.

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