Back in May, Facebook announced Facebook Connect, an authentication API that allows you to use your Facebook credentials on other sites. And not just to log in; you can also take your Facebook information — trusted friends and privacy settings and the like — with you from site to site. I thought that was fine and all, but I don’t use Facebook much so I didn’t really give it much more thought; it’s just another identity federation effort, plenty more where that came from.
But Dick Hardt recently pointed out that Facebook has a competitive advantage in the business of authentication:
The killer feature though is something that will be hard for other potential platforms to do. Facebook strives to only have real identities. In the participatory web, the enemy has been the lack of accountability. Trolls pollute the conversation, spammers fill the web with garbage, and promoters try to game the system. Facebook kills off accounts that are not real people.
Even though he’s an advocate for OpenID, which I’ve seen gaining traction in the web world if not in the enterprise, Hardt thinks that this Facebook Connect poses a real challenge; things like OpenID won’t go away, but may be relegated to the early adopter geek fringe.