Let me preface this by saying I enjoy Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Facebook allows me to share personal moments with family and friends, LinkedIn allows me to keep in touch with my professional colleagues – past and present, and Twitter gets me the news as it happens. That said, I would like to keep them separate. Individually, they are awesome. Together, they could cause a lot of confusion and pain and potentially scary situations.
Last fall with Facebook on the cusp of global domination, the Facebook single sign-on program started expanding to cover all other aspects of our internet life. The purported motive was to allow a single sign in access to all websites of interest. Soon enough, websites were supporting the Facebook single sign on method. Little did everyone realize that Facebook now had access to parts of our life that were until then, ours.
Now everybody wants to be a part of the social network paradigm. Twitter and LinkedIn also wanted a piece of the action and soon enough there was social integration left, right and center. To be fair, all of these are options one can disable but the lure is still there for unsuspecting public to want to link up their private lives with their work and their public interests. Everybody from Microsoft to Google to Facebook to LinkedIn to Yahoo/Twitter is pushing for it.
There is a lot at stake here starting with the user’s data and preferences. By integrating your social lives, these networks have access to everything about you ranging from your favorite restaurant to your best friends to where you work to your past employers to your son’s school. By hooking all these up in one place, we are exposing ourselves to huge ramifications if this data were to be shared with the wrong audiences or worse still- be hacked.
Microsoft just announced their Outlook connector which integrates your Outlook Inbox with your Facebook friends. Just imagine the kind of ways things could go wrong. With that thought, Ill end this post. If this topic interests you, there is an excellent (but long) Slideshare presentation titled the Real Life Social Network, from a developer at Google talking about the future of social networking. Note that Google has an active role in this so read about it with that perspective.