A day after rival MySpace announced it would let users share their profiles and other personal data across the Web, Facebook said it would do the same in the next several weeks.
The new features, called Facebook Connect, were introduced on the company's blog as the next iteration of Facebook's platform for developers building applications to run within the social network. Facebook Connect would make it possible for developers to build applications that connect to Facebook from other Web sites. Facebook users, however, would maintain control over their personal data and would have to agree to share it.
Facebook said it believed data portability over the Web was more than just moving data. "It's about giving users the ability to take their identity and friends with them around the Web, while being able to trust that their information is always up to date and always protected by their privacy settings," the company said.
Facebook said features planned for the upcoming service include being able to authenticate and connect a Facebook user's account to an outside Web site. The user, however, would have control of the permissions granted.
Other features include users being able to bring their real identities with them wherever they go on the Web. The information would include basic profiles, profile pictures, names, friend lists, and photos, as well as information on events and groups.
Also, as Facebook users move around the Web they could take their privacy settings with them. Changes to those settings on Facebook would be automatically distributed to any third-party Web site that was granted access to the information.
On Thursday, MySpace, which is owned by News Corp., made a similar announcement, but also said Yahoo, eBay, Photobucket, and Twitter had agreed to be among the first to offer outside services to MySpace users. Facebook has the user-generated news site Digg as its initial partner.
Under MySpace's initiative, users will be able to go to a central privacy control panel on the site and chose the information they want to share and the sites they want to share it with. Initially, users will be able to share their basic profile information, photos, personal videos, and friend lists. The new services would be available in several weeks, MySpace executives said.
MySpace is the largest social network, accounting for nearly 74% of all the traffic to such sites, according to Web intelligence firm Hitwise. Facebook is second with nearly 15%.