I opened up Spotify on the desktop for the first time in some weeks this morning, and noticed that the “People”-tab – sparsely populated last time I used the desktop app – was overflowing with Facebook contacts.
This is… pretty neat. But it makes me feel a bit queasy.
If this is how the social component of applications is going to work – by pulling your friends from Facebook – it means that you will have to have a Facebook account to use those social components. You can’t befriend people using Facebook when being hooked into another social network.
Consequently, to use Spotify to its full extent, I now have to accept Facebook’s privacy policies. For instance, I can’t use those Spotify features and hide who my friends are on Facebook. I don’t approve of this chain of logic.
The “social graph” functionality that Facebook has introduced is way too important to be controlled by any single company. We need an open protocol for this, just as we have open protocols for e-mail, web, telephony and so on.
The question is whether this change will come about due to regulatory pressures – Facebook is bound to run into some competition watchdog sooner or later – or whether an open alternative will emerge before that happens. (Unlikely as long as Facebook has a monopoly on the social graph and refuses to enable integration with other social networks.)
BBC article on privacy, Facebook and potential competitors
Facebook, Google and privacy (The Economist)
Facebook’s gone rogue – it’s time for an open alternative (Wired)
Diaspora, an attempt to create an open social network