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.

And the privacy model is just based on control. We give the user full control of who can see what pieces of content on the site and it's all based on who you are friends with. You can set it all up so everyone has a really clear understanding of who is seeing what. So that's what's really made Facebook a great place to have authentic interactions just like they do in the real world. When you're in the real world, you have a door in your house, locks on your car, and there are all these social contracts set up amongst all of us. On Facebook, we've really tried to mimic the real world with our privacy model. And so as we looked at enabling Facebook users to go anywhere with that identity that they've created, one of the most important things we were looking at is how do we enable that privacy model to follow you wherever you go? In other words, be dynamic.

So we think we've come to a pretty good product or solution here that solves it in a pretty unique way, both through our standard API and through our Facebook markup language, FBML. We've actually enabled it so any developer that integrates Connect, if they integrate a profile picture or somebody's name or any piece of Facebook data into their site, it'll actually stay up to date. So a practical example of that is if you log into another site like Gawker or Citysearch or Yelp, you create a profile page. If we hadn't implemented Connect, the data wouldn't transfer over [from Facebook]. We wanted to make to when you change your profile picture on Facebook, it should change everywhere, and that's what we've done with Facebook Connect. You can expect it's going to be the same one no matter where you go. That's the case for all the information in your profile.

Facebook started with a young demographic like you and me. Anecdotally, people in college and in their 20s like to share lots of information. But the problems with Beacon last year revealed that we care more about privacy than maybe people thought. Since then, Facebook added really robust privacy settings. What's your view on the ability to share versus privacy? Where's the right balance?

Giving people the power to share is something that we care deeply about, but we know you can only give people the power to share if they know who they are sharing with. Your point it exactly correct. People on Facebook have just gotten used to it. They're used to having these great privacy settings. You might not use all of them, but you know they're there. You're absolutely right in that our generation does share more than any other in history, but in order to share, you have to have control. We're deep believers in that.

Let's talk about your relationship with the developer community. How has it evolved since you first launched the platform?

When we first started, we released this little API in 2006. We had a small group of several hundred developers who were very, very dedicated. They were pretty great. When we built the Facebook Platform, the first version of it, and released it in 2007, we had grand aspirations, but those aspirations were like 5,000 developers. We were, and still are, completely humbled by the response to the technology. Our goal has always been to make the Web a more social place. That mission has enabled us to bring 650,000 developers in 180 countries to the Platform. That's been something we've been incredibly humbled by, and also incredible invigorated. We think it's amazing.

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