Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Liveblogging the Facebook Mobile Event: Single Sign-On for Social

BoomTown arrived late to the Facebook mobile event for the press due to traffic related to the parade today for the San Francisco Giants’ World Series victory–and where I would much rather be right now.

Go Giants!

10:53 am PT: In any case, I am here in the cafeteria of Facebook again, where the company continues its attempts to take over the known digital universe before Google does.

Currently, the social networking giant notes “200 million people around the world are now actively using Facebook from a phone, more than triple the number just one year ago.”

Thus, some new tries of a lot of stuff, such as single sign-on.

Meaning you sign on a Facebook and it signs you on all over the Web (or at least at those in partnership with the company).

Such as at Groupon and Zynga.

This single sign-on stuff has been tried by many before, a kind of Holy Grail of the Web, and where everyone has failed.

But it also the proverbial camel’s nose poking in your digital tent.

As in, the whole Facebook body is surely coming in next.

Facebook’s exec in charge of all this, Eric Tseng, talks about a virtuous circle of single sign-on, happy users and happy developers, sounding as if this is the single biggest problem facing humanity.

A password crisis! Silicon Valley to the rescue!

Perhaps the only issue the now damaged administration of President Barack Obama could actually get some legislation passed on now.

“My fellow Americans, we have too long be stuck in a miasma of forgetting which name of our dog we used for our password plus the number one…”

How much do I want to be at Giants parade right now? Much!

11:02 am: Next, we move onto more ability to show your location to friends on Facebook better and make sense of it by opening location APIs.

More heavy pontificating about what a disaster it is that we cannot properly see where our friends are on Facebook in the real world.

Of course, this leaves out the pertinent point that my “friends” on Facebook are exactly those I do not want to run into at the Starbucks on El Camino Real in Palo Alto, Calif.

Loopt Founder Sam Altman comes up to show off the integration with Facebook Places, where this problem is solved anyway.

“We believe data wants to be unified,” says Altman.

Certainly if you are the Borg, you want it to be unified. Me, not so much.

11:11 am: Now comes the attempted Groupon-killer from Facebook, which is creatively called “Deals.”

This is essentially allowing Facebook Places to locate a person and then merchants to offer deals when a user is nearby via a platform offered by Facebook.

You can do individual deals, such as getting a beer at a bar when you check in. Then, there is a loyalty deal on the phone, taking the place of that dog-eared card you always lose.

And there is the “friend deal.” This is not friends with benefits, sadly.

It means if you check in and bring a lot of folks, one eats free–which sounds just a little naughty.

Also, there is one deal type related to charity.

For the Gap, for example, you get a free jeans if you are among the first 10,000 to check in at a Gap store. There are 500 million Facebook users, so you do the math.

Essentially, it is about getting stuff if you check in, including experiences.

So, just like little white mice in Facebook’s lab, we push the button, we get the cheese. Sigh.

But I wonder if I check in right now, I can be transported to the Giants parade via a time machine. Now that might be something worth handing over my privacy to Facebook.

“The big takeaway for today is that there is obviously a lot of change in the social space,” says Facebook CEO and Co-founder Mark Zuckerberg. “You can rethink any product area and make it be social.”

Indeed, you can. And Facebook obviously is going to be plowing on through a lot of them in order to solidify its stranglehold on the consumer.

11:23 am: Q&A!

The first question is on privacy and third-party developers giving up your location.

Yes, that!

Zuckerberg makes assurances that the current privacy steps now in place are working just fine and also users need to consent.

“The place information about people is not public,” he says.

There is question from Ben Parr of Mashable, about whether there is an iPad app for Facebook coming.

“It’s not mobile…it is a computer,” declares Zuckerberg, dismissing the very good question.

“I think Apple would disagree with you,” countered Parr, correctly.

“Well, sorry,” said Zuckerberg with more than a little bit of snark.

For a second, he sounds just like the guy from the Facebook movie.

But Zuckerberg quickly declares his love of Apple products and apologizes, although he should not have as it was a funny exchange.

A question about single sign-on. Zuckerberg notes that it has been tried, but the experience was bad.

“What we think is going to happen now is that it is so easy when it works, it is a whole different experience,” he said, comparing it to the way YouTube made video uploading on the Web easier.

Zuckerberg’s goal is that all apps become social, which is also a virtuous circle for Facebook, of course.

A question about the deals offer. It seems for Zuckerberg that Facebook is not getting a cut from retailers right now, as Groupon does.

Ruh-roh, Andrew Mason!

Zuckerberg then notes that the Places offering is going well, without giving a lot of specifics.

At the end, PR maven Brandee Barker wraps it up by saying what I have been thinking this entire time:

“Go Giants!”


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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