Google, Facebook add support for social content portability

Giants join DataPortability Workgroup to ease sharing of user-generated content on social networks

Google and Facebook this week said that they have joined the DataPortability Workgroup, an organization dedicated to creating ways to easily share user-generated content created on social networks.

The move by the two firms, which together store a huge amount of social content, comes less than a week after a blogosphere brouhaha erupted when well-known tech blogger Robert Scoble was kicked off of Facebook for trying to download his contact information from the social network.

Chris Saad, co-founder and CEO of Faraday Media and an organizer of the data portability group, noted in a blog post that Google and Facebook -- along with Plaxo, which also announced plans to join the group -- "together represent the key players in the competing approaches to social networking platforms and data portability."

"Their joint support of the DataPortability initiative presents a new opportunity for the next generation of software -- particularly in the fields of social software, user rights and interoperability," Saad wrote. "This means users will be able to access their friends and media across all the applications, social networking sites and widgets that implement the design into their systems."

The group's philosophy is that user photos, videos and other forms of personal data should be discoverable by and shared between their chosen tools and vendors, he added.

"The technologies already exist; we simply need a complete reference design to pull the pieces together," Saad noted. "Our mission: To put all existing technologies and initiatives in context to create a reference design for end-to-end data portability."

Marshall Kirkpatrick, a blogger at ReadWriteWeb, said that the announcement by Google and Facebook could mean the end of user lock-in -- but could also create new privacy challenges.

"The non-participation of Google and Facebook, two companies that hold more user data than almost any other consumer service on the market, was the biggest stumbling block to the viability of the project," he wrote. "These are two of the most important companies in recent history -- what's being decided now is whether they will be walled-garden data-horders or truly open platforms tied into a larger ecosystem of innovation with respect for user rights and sensible policies about data."

Brad Fitzpatrick, inventor of LiveJournal and a leader of the Google-led OpenSocial project, will represent Google in the DataPortability organization. Facebook's Benjamin Ling (formerly at Google) will represent Facebook, and Joseph Smarr is Plaxo's representative.

Observers noted that Scoble had been temporarily kicked out of Facebook for using an automated Plaxo script to "scrape" the data from Facebook.

"If these industry titans can put aside their rivalry and work together -- magic could happen," Fitzpatrick noted. "Hopefully they can work appropriately with the other members of the working group, bleeding-edge consultants and representatives of smaller and in many cases more user-centric companies. The participation of representatives from Google and Facebook in this initiative could prove key in the continued development of what's possible, instead of the early suffocation of what could have been."

Google and Facebook will join Yahoo, Dow Jones, eHub, Zoomr and the BBC as members of the group.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Heather Havenstein

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?