Facebook app for OStatus?

Social networks are sprouting like weeds. I don’t know about you, but I groan every time I get a burst of invitations from the latest network du jour. I usually ignore them, but I know I’m missing out on good conversations with my early adopter friends.

I’ve always wanted just one profile and friend list, in one place, to connect to friends anywhere. Email already does this; why can’t social networking?

The short answer is, it can. The OStatus suite of federation protocols (Salmon, ActivityStreams, etc.) is the leading contender right now. It hasn’t been adopted by any of the majors yet, but I expect many will gradually start supporting it, similar to OpenID and OAuth.

Some won’t, though. Facebook‘s track record with open standards and data is mixed at best, and their reputation isn’t much better. Their API, however, is comprehensive enough that third party apps could easily implement bridges and even fully federated protocols like OStatus.

Given that, it’s odd that I can’t find anyone who’s done this yet. I can think of a few reasons, namely the ban hammer and the fact that individual users would need to opt in. Is there a bigger reason I’m missing? Are the stakeholders pushing for official support instead, or focusing on more feasible targets, or just too busy?

I’ve talked to a number of people about this, and they don’t think it’s crazy. I’m not trying to pick on Facebook, either. I’d love to do this for other major sites like Twitter and Google+ too.

I’ve started hacking on this a bit in my spare time. Drop me a line if you’re interested in helping!


8 thoughts on “Facebook app for OStatus?

  1. This is certainly interesting. The ban hammer, user opt-in problem, combined with the fact that many people such as myself have not had a reason to use Facebook for ages (so we sort of forget about it) tend to culminate in the “no one wrote that yet”.

    I certainly encourage you to take a crack at it!

    Doing it for Twitter should be much easier. I’ve already noodled some ideas on how that could work. (in fact, I built it for OMB, but never rebuilt it for OStatus :) )

    Google+ should (pretty sure) be 80% OStatus compatible natively soon. No promises, obviously :P

  2. A few thoughts come to mind …

    • An additional layer of abstraction can solve anything
    • The people who want this are the people who the ones who know it’s possible. Then they realize, quite sadly, that most everybody else is quite happy with just dealing with one network.
    • I’m gonna have to put up my own rant about how I think social networks should work … ’cause that’ll fix it!
  3. The ban hammer is the problem; Facebook is quite clear they won’t allow third parties to access this data. See also, the failure of Apple’s Ping to launch with Facebook.

    It’s a good idea though, and if I were you I’d just implement all the important sites and see where it takes you. Be happy to chat more about the idea.

  4. diaspora just launched officially and sent out invitation emails to users. it began development around the same time as ostatus and many of its component protocols, and it now uses most of those protocols under the hood, including webfinger, activitystreams, PuSH, and salmon. that’s great!

    evidently the one remaining disconnect is permissions. ostatus and activitystreams assume everything is public, while diaspora supports private and semi-private data. ostatus is working on that.

  5. I didn't notice it could do something more than importing photos. I was worried about setting it up in case all of my facebook photos started to suddenly integrate into Google+ without me having a chance to do some major censoring. I will have to look at it more closely. I'd be happy to settle for limited federation for now. via Google+

  6. cool! looks like that's just an importer, not federation…but still definitely useful!

    …i take it back, it also does cross posting and a few other niceties. great!

    you still have to maintain accounts everywhere, and it won't automatically support new networks (or any other than fb and twitter?), so i'm still hoping for true federation, but i'm glad to see this kind of movement! via Google+

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