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Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Google to Offer Websites Social Networking Features

Google has set out to enable all websites, free of charge, to be imbued with common social networking features as the Internet evolves toward becoming a giant community along the lines of MySpace or Facebook.

Google Friend Connect was previewed at a Campfire One gathering of third-party software developers at the company's "Googleplex" campus in Mountain View, California on Monday.

With Google Friend Connect, any website owner can add a snippet of code to his or her site and get social features up and running immediately without programming -- picking and choosing from built-in functionality like user registration, invitations, members gallery, message posting, and reviews, as well as third-party applications built by the OpenSocial developer community.

Visitors to any site using Google Friend Connect will be able to see, invite, and interact with new friends, or, using secure authorization APIs, with existing friends from social sites on the web, including Facebook, Google Talk, hi5, orkut, Plaxo, and more.

The unveiling of the plan comes just days after top social networking websites MySpace and Facebook broke down walls of their online communities to let members share profile information at other websites.

"Google Friend Connect is about helping the 'long tail' of sites become more social," said David Glazer, a director of engineering at Google. "Many sites aren't explicitly social and don't necessarily want to be social networks, but they still benefit from letting their visitors interact with each other. That used to be hard. Fortunately, there's an emerging wave of social standards -- OpenID, OAuth, OpenSocial, and the data access APIs published by Facebook, Google, MySpace, and others. Google Friend Connect builds on these standards to let people easily connect with their friends, wherever they are on the web, making 'any app, any site, any friends' a reality."

To demonstrate, an iLike application was incorporated into an official website of musician Ingrid Michaelson so that visitors don't have to leave to connect with friends at their social networking profiles.

All website operators using Friend Connect see are user nicknames and images, if any, posted along with them.

Website owners are invited to put their names in a "white list" queue online at www/google.com/friendconnect.

Google plans to phase in more websites and social networks in the months to come, with the Open Social software platform as a basis for interoperability. Google launched Open Social last year to promote common protocols so developers can make applications that work on any social networking website involved in the effort.

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