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Facebook looks to branch out

 

From today's NYT:

PALO ALTO, Calif. — Facebook, the Internet’s largest social network, wants to let you take your friends with you as you travel the Web. But having been burned by privacy concerns in the last year, it plans to keep close tabs on those outings.

Facebook Connect, as the company’s new feature is called, allows its members to log onto other Web sites using their Facebook identification and see their friends’ activities on those sites. Like Beacon, the controversial advertising program that Facebook introduced and then withdrew last year after it raised a hullabaloo over privacy, Connect also gives members the opportunity to broadcast their actions on those sites to their friends on Facebook.

In the next few weeks, a number of prominent Web sites will weave this service into their pages, including those of the Discovery Channel and The San Francisco Chronicle, the social news site Digg, the genealogy network Geni and the online video hub Hulu.

Facebook Connect is representative of some surprising new thinking in Silicon Valley. Instead of trying to hoard information about their users, the Internet giants have all announced plans to share at least some of that data so people do not have to enter the same identifying information again and again on different sites.

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