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Q&A: Dave Morin, Facebook Senior Platform Manager, on Facebook Connect and the Future

Q&A: Dave Morin, Facebook Senior Platform Manager, on Facebook Connect and the Future

Here's a Facebook insider's views on where the social networking giant stands now, how it's handling concern among third-party developers, and where it's headed with Facebook Connect, an effort to broaden the platform's reach throughout the Web.

Dave Morin, senior platform manager at Facebook, has to manage many of the moving parts of the Facebook ecosystem. The decisions he and his team make affect all the developers, marketers and advertisers who have staked the future of their business on building applications and products on top of the platform.

But Morin is as philosophical as he is technical. He views the importance of social technologies as computing's next major iteration, on par with the personal computer and invention of the Web itself. At 28, he talks about how the younger generation's willingness to share is a special one, but that it must be managed carefully to ensure the proper privacy and security.

Here is my full interview with Morin at Facebook's headquarters in Palo Alto, California. Morin talked very openly about the future of Facebook Connect, the aim of which is help Facebook users to take their identity with them across the Web. Morin also spoke of the relationship Facebook has with its developer community, one that has become tricky as he manages changes to the platform and the effect they have on their businesses.

Let's start with Facebook Connect. It came out in November. What have been your early impressions so far?

For us, Facebook Connect is really about enabling the entire Web. Not just the Web, but also mobile devices and desktop applications to become more social. On the Facebook Platform, we have more than 600,000 developers and 50,000 applications. We saw this ability to add social context could be incredibly powerful, so we were excited to finally get Connect out the door and enable anyone on any website or device or app to become more social. We've already seen amazing adoption. We've seen several hundred sites already live and we've seen incredible numbers.

For example, I think last week, Gawker, which did a Connect integration, saw their log-in conversion increase by 40 percent, which is an incredible number. When we were creating Connect, we really thought it has three pieces. One is the ability to integrate identity and let the user log in with the Facebook account. Two, to add social context so people can not just write a comment on a blog, but to see what comments their friends are making. That little piece of social context can really increase and improve discovery for people. The third piece was all about feed, increasing the distribution of comments.

Other tech companies have done data portability initiatives or have taken stabs at this in the past. Why has it usually failed? And how can Connect be different?

We have one key point: we call it dynamic privacy. One of the key shortcomings of all the data portability initiatives in the past has always been that. Facebook is really strong at allowing people to represent themselves with their real authentic identity. People are used to their real name, their real profile photo, and connect to all of their real friends. The reason why people do that on Facebook is because of the incredible privacy model we've set up.

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