If you’ve been reading TechMeme, TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb, Mashable!, or many other blogs today, you’ll know that Google, Plaxo, and Facebook have now joined DataPortability.org. While it certainly isn’t surprising to see Plaxo and Google join, some are making it seem as if Facebook’s inclusion makes this a history-changing day for the Internet. I’m not convinced.
Facebook already supports the microformat hCard on public profile pages, which as far as I can tell is the only DataPortability.org standard Facebook supports beyond private RSS feeds. Facebook has always had a history of saying it wants to support open standards, as Mark Zuckerberg implied at Web 2.0 Summit last year by calling not being open a “flaw in the system.” Zuckerberg did say that he thinks the social graph “is the user’s data,” so might this actually be a real step in the right direction? In the past, when asking Facebook about supporting open technologies, like those which are a part of the DataPortability.org stack, company officials always replied that, as Facebook was still a small company, they didn’t have the resources to do so. What changed between a few months ago and today that all of a sudden supporting these technologies is a real business priority?
The real question of the day is if Facebook will follow through on its support of the DataPortability.org mission, “To put all existing technologies and initiatives in context to create a reference design for end-to-end Data Portability. To promote that design to the developer, vendor and end-user community.” Or if this is just a marketing tactic given the issues from last week?