[OpenID] About Facebook, MySpace and OpenID

santrajan santrajan at gmail.com
Fri Apr 3 15:43:23 UTC 2009

I am posting the full text of my blog post with the same subject here.

MySpace recently announced there support for OpenID. The idea here is that
MySpace users will be able to log in to third party sites with their MySpace
Id's. MySpace users needn't get too exited about it too soon.

Consider this. A MySpace user would like to log in to her favorite shopping
site with her MySpace Account. The shopping site is unlikely to support
MySpace Logins. The simple reason being that shopping sites need the email
addresses of their authenticated users for various reasons (communicating
orders, delivery, new stock etc etc). It doesnt make sence to the shopping
site to authenticate using MySpace (An extra step) and then run the user
through another email verification process. This will also be true for many
other web sites that require their users to login.

However  MySpace could have made the users email available to the shopping
site (Ofcource with the users consent only) via a provision in the OpenID
specifications called SREG. So then why didnt MySpace choose to support

This is not a problem for MySpace alone. When Facebook decides to support
OpenID it will be faced with the same dilemma. It is really a frightening
thought for social networking sites to hand over their users email address
to a third party. For social networking sites keeping the users bound their
network is of primary importance.

However an equally frightening possibility for social networking sites is to
see their users start using Google accounts and Yahoo accounts to log in
into third party sites! They could start loosing users in that case too. 

The jury is out on what these guys should do.

But I am clear on what MySpace should have done. Facebook being the no 1
social networking site can wait this one out a bit more. However MySpace
should really have capitalized on this opportunity. Supported SREG and tried
to rope in third party sites to support MySpace logins, and tried to build a
small advantage over Facebook on this account.

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