All your social graph are belong to us

By Sterling Camden

Do you ever get tired of adding all of your “friends” each time you join a new social network?  Brad Fitzpatrick, who recently joined Google, has been working on this very problem.  He proposes a non-profit, open source database of identities and relationships that could be accessed via public APIs or full data downloads with updates.  Apparently, he’s already got some of this working.

Brad’s idea is that when you join a new social network, that network could query the central database using your OpenID (or some other identification) and automatically tie you to your identity in other networks, as well as determine who else they have registered that is already your friend in those other networks. 

Dare Obasanjo and Assaf Arkin voice skepticism about the need.  Dare thinks its the competing networks, rather than the users, who would like to have the convenient ability to tap into existing social relationships.

And what about the potential for exploiting the information for other marketing purposes?  If I know that someone uses my product, and I can get a list of all their friends, I’ve got an instant spamroll.

Ross Mayfield worries about just how much information would become available to developers of third-party applications, and warns of “the new potential for relationship theft”.  While I think Ross generally supports the concept (or maybe sees it as inevitable), he’s right to look out for attack vectors.  In the Brave New Web, if it can be spammed or stolen, it will be.

What do you think about this initiative?  Will it make your life easier, or threaten your privacy — or both?


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