Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Facebook’s Mantra: Use Facebook Connect or Don’t Connect at All

Want access to Facebook’s user base, which has now cracked 150 million? Then you’re going to need to play by Facebook’s rules.

Last week Mark Zuckberg’s company sued, a social network aggregator, because the company allowed Facebook users to plug into the site without actually visiting Facebook itself. Today, instant-messaging aggregator Meebo is unplugging itself from Facebook.

No idea if legal threats were brought up in this case, but the parallel seems pretty clear: Facebook will offer outside sites access to its user base, but only on its own terms.

In both cases, Facebook wanted the would-be partner sites to use its recently launched Facebook Connect service. Last week, founder Steve Vacahni told me that he and Facebook had “resolved” their issues, and that Facebook’s lawyers had told him the suit would be dropped shortly. But as far as I know Facebook has yet to withdraw its complaint.

Which has probably served as an effective warning for Meebo CEO Seth Sternberg, who sent out this memo to his users tonight:

Hi Meebo,

Got some bad news. :(

As a bunch of you already know (because you’ve been using it), we recently added Facebook Chat into Meebo.

We have been speaking to the Facebook team, and it turns out, they’d like us to connect to their network in a different way. In the interim, they asked us take Facebook off Meebo, and we said ‘okay.’

However, we were glad to hear that the Facebook team was genuinely excited to see their network on Meebo, especially since they already have plans to open Facebook Chat. They also committed resources from their Chat and Facebook Connect teams to do extra work with us to get Facebook Chat back on Meebo ‘really, really soon.’

Work began this week, so stay tuned. We expect some all nighters on both sides!


P.S. Meebo grew in December. We reached close to 45 million people, a new record, including 2.5 million via Meebo Community IM. So it’s not all bad news… :)”

Update — here’s comment from Facebook:

We are excited to be working with Meebo to implement Facebook Chat using Facebook Connect. Their current integration was launched without meeting the policies we have in place to assure the trust users have established on Facebook is maintained when they interact with their Facebook friends around the Web.

We announced our plans to open Facebook Chat to third-party Websites in 2008 and are working closely with Meebo to create a great experience for Facebook users that use their service.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik