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Facebook & MySpace crack things open with data portability

Over the past couple of days, both MySpace and Facebook have launched individual answers to the issue of data portability - the idea that your data from any given online service (from your profiles to your online photos to your Gmail acount) belongs to you and not the service. On Thursday, MySpace (the shadier of the two) launched the MySpace Data Availability project. The New York Times breaks it down like this:
The new MySpace Data Availability project is its first in a series of initiatives by the company to support data portability, allowing users to take the content they create in one network and easily add it to other sites, MySpace said. Until now, social networking sites like MySpace have favored the "walled garden" approach, where they essentially lock their users into their own site. MySpace said that it has signed agreements with Yahoo, eBay, Photobucket and Twitter to participate in the project. Over the next several weeks, MySpace users will be able to add their MySpace data to those sites with the click of a button, noted Chris DeWolfe, CEO and cofounder of MySpace.
Today, Facebook (the classier of the two) announced "Facebook Connect," the next step in the Facebook Platform. Like MySpace's project, Facebook Connect lets you take and use your Facebook info with you across the web. Their blog post from earlier today explains some specific features:
Trusted AuthenticationUsers will be able to connect their Facebook account with any partner website using a trusted authentication method. Whether at login, or anywhere else a developer would like to add social context, the user will be able to authenticate and connect their account in a trusted environment. The user will have total control of the permissions granted. Real Identity Facebook users represent themselves with their real names and real identities. With Facebook Connect, users can bring their real identity information with them wherever they go on the Web, including: basic profile information, profile picture, name, friends, photos, events, groups, and more. Friends AccessUsers count on Facebook to stay connected to their friends and family. With Facebook Connect, users can take their friends with them wherever they go on the Web. Developers will be able to add rich social context to their websites. Developers will even be able to dynamically show which of their Facebook friends already have accounts on their sites. Dynamic Privacy As a user moves around the open Web, their privacy settings will follow, ensuring that users' information and privacy rules are always up-to-date. For example, if a user changes their profile picture, or removes a friend connection, this will be automatically updated in the external website.
While your data is still essentially owned by the network, these steps to make it easier to distribute and use are significant. Even with all of the awesomeness that comes with Web 2.0, it's still been a complete scatter-brained beatdown keeping up with each individual online service because they couldn't interact with each other. But now, it looks like social apps are ready to be social with each other. That's very sweet of them.

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