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Thu 24 July 2008

Facebook wants to be the social "LDAP" for the web

New Tool From Facebook Extends Its Web Presence

Web sites can ask users for their Facebook user name and password, instead of creating an identity verification system themselves, and offer their users the ability to import their list of friends from Facebook.

For a long time business has had the need to keep a master list of all their people. The term used is a directory, most directories now standardize and a format called LDAP. While there are different flavors (Microsoft has Active Directory, Apple has Open Directory) there is a core standard for many other programs to be able to "look people up" in the company directory for everything from email passwords to printer access.

It looks like Facebook would like to be "THE" directory for social networks. That is, it wants to be (and is well on its way) to becoming your authoritative reference for "whose friends with who". I don't know whether such a connection is a one time transfer, or if there is more dynamic syncing. It will be interesting to see if other companies fight this. Clearly there are a lot of application developers that would like to just focus on the feature, and not recreate the network, and for them this will be a boon. I still think its spooky to have any one company be THE reference for social networking, but Facebook seems to be heading that direction.