Today, Facebook announced that they have joined the OpenID Foundation. Facebook has long been criticized by those working to build out the “open stack” for not supporting open standards, instead opting to develop their own authorization protocols. Facebook Connect is the current public authentication model that the company is promoting although the Facebook API has provided methods for authentication for a while now.
OpenID and other open stack protocols have become secondary to Facebook Connect within the mainstream media due to the massive buzz the company experienced as the Facebook platform grew. Being a participant in the OpenID Foundation is an important step toward the success of OpenID and the open stack. Without Facebook’s support, I would argue that many of the open stack standards (OpenID, XRDS-Simple, OAuth, OpenSocial, etc) will not succeed.
While Google has been heavily promoting Friend Connect, the standard doesn’t appear to be gaining as much traction, especially not in the media. Facebook has also kept themselves at arms length from the open identity evangelists for a long time although more recently they’ve become more active with Julie Zhuo’s participation in the UX Summit, and Dave Morin’s occasional appearance at meetups related to the topic.
While Facebook has not yet committed to support many of the open standards, joining the board is a sign of commitment. While Facebook may choose to duplicate and recreate their own version of many of the standards, it’s always important to be part of the conversation. Personally, I’m interested to see what other steps Facebook will make to support these new standards.
If you want to read more about the company’s commitment to the OpenID Foundation, check out the blog post on the Facebook blog.