Forcing Facebook to Federate: A question for developers

One of the biggest fears in deleting your Facebook profile is the lack of alternatives. The sheer monopoly that Facebook has in the SNS space is overwhelming, making it hard to abandon ship. The ideal situation for social networking in the future is federation. Standard protocols are decided upon, and customers rely on interoperable service providers. Think of how email operates: Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail customers can all email one another. Each service provider offers different features to its customers, but email is email.

Facebook could open its protocols, allowing interoperability with other service providers, and potentially own the space. They could be the Yahoo or Hotmail of SNS. Chances are though, that they won’t do this.

One potential strategy for present and future alternatives to Facebook is to allow members to communicate with Facebook friends left behind — allow contact with those “who feel trapped”, to put it in Dana Boyd’s words, and fear leaving the service.

Using Facebook’s API, could an application be built to allow FB users to connect with friends on other networks? Such an app would allow posts and photos to travel “between walls” through standard protocols like RSS, XMPP, JSON, ActivityStreams etc. This would dampen fears of being “disconnected” from friends and family when deleting your Facebook account. The app might also potentially be used to export your FB data to the new service provider. This could be a band-aid solution until — or even lay the groundwork for — the day true federated social networking arrives.

Not being a dev myself, I must ask all of you, can this be done?

Author: Chad Kohalyk

Bellatrist, communitarian, tech contrarian. Generous with Likes. http://chadkohalyk.com