Facebook gives major boost to OpenID

The move should simplify the process of registering for and logging into Facebook

Facebook has adopted the OpenID user-identity framework to simplify how people register for and log into the social networking site.

It means that people will be able to sign into Facebook using their log-in credentials from Gmail.

"This is a quicker, more streamlined way for new users to register for the site, find their friends and start exploring," Facebook planned to say in a blog post later Monday.

People will be able to link their Facebook accounts with their Gmail accounts or with accounts from other online services that support OpenID automatic log-ins, according to Facebook.

This linkage automatically logs people into Facebook when they sign in to those other OpenID-supported accounts.

The move is the latest from Facebook to make itself more compatible with third-party sites and services, and thus simplify life for users struggling to manage and remember myriad passwords and user names to social networks, e-mail accounts, multimedia sharing sites and the like.

Facebook has its own identity and data portability service called Connect that lets people sign-in to other sites with their Facebook log-in information and re-use some data from their Facebook profiles.

OpenID aims to provide a standard portable identity people can use to log in to sites across the Web that isn't tied to any particular vendor or service provider.

Support from Facebook, which is the most popular social networking site in the world with 200 million members, is a boost to this project.

Facebook has been making overtures towards the OpenID movement for months, after critics said Connect was a rival to OpenID.

In February, Facebook joined the OpenID Foundation Board and hosted a "summit" about the OpenID user experience.

It will be interesting to see if Facebook puts OpenID on par with Connect, which has functionality beyond being a sign-in system, said industry analyst Greg Sterling [cq] from Sterling Market Intelligence.

For example, in addition to letting Facebook members log-in to partner sites with their Facebook credentials, Connect also lets them export their friend connections and certain information and content from their Facebook profiles.

Be that as it may, incorporating support for OpenID will be beneficial to Facebook because it gives the company an alternative way to stay connected to its members, Sterling said.

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