Facebook's Connect system, the unseen code that makes logging in to many other Web sites much easier, marches on—it's just reached MySpace for example. But Twitter isn't planning on being left out, and it's improving its own version.
Facebook Connect has come so very far since its mid-2008 launch, and it's been so very successful it's basically stamped out competing services from Google. And now there's news that it's hitting MySpace—which is an even more potent demonstration of Connect's power, since MySpace was a vicious Facebook rival in the early days, and it actually had its own competing service just two years ago. The new effort is all part of MySpace's desperate scramble to resurrect itself from a ruined social network into a social media-sharing service, and though it brings all the traditional advantages of Connect (easy log in, widgets) it's sure to be a slightly bitter pill for MySpace's management. For now Connect is mainly tied to the Fan Video system inside MySpace—where it lets you share music videos with your friends—but it wouldn't be surprising to see it more fully integrated into MySpace soon.
Meanwhile Twitter, Facebook's newest rival on the social network scene, is apparently determined to get into the same sort of cross-Web site login business that Connect operates in. Various code hooks and libraries to make it all possible are already embedded in Twitter's API, but over at TechCrunch they've heard from insiders that Twitter wants to wrap it all up in a much more user-friendly package. The idea is that if Twitter makes it super-easy for Web site managers to add in Twitter logins and sophisticated status-updating connects back to Twitter to their sites, the system will get used more. Which will drive more users and traffic to Twitter, of course...and that'll push up its importance in the real-time status update market (where Twitter may have just turned its first profits.)
One advantage of Twitter's system is that it is an open format, compared to Facebook's proprietary Connect code, and that may prove attractive to some. But exactly how well Twitter will fare with its efforts is impossible to predict. What is clear though is that where social networking was once seen as a strange time wasting bit of online fun, the systems that make it possible are carefully insinuating their way deeper into the workings of the Web—and they're actually delivering additional, useful services as a result.