NBC-FacebookConnect

NBC Uses Facebook Connect As An Exclusive Login

I won’t be commenting on any NBC Olympics blog posts, or giving them a thumbs-up. That’s because the only option for commenting voting is Facebook Connect.

Unlike the federal government, which has also privileged Facebook Connect upon occasion, NBC is a corporation. It has no “taxpayer public interest” that should mandate the option of an open — non-proprietary, non-commercial — platform such as OpenID. But it should have advocates on its web dev staff who can convince their bosses that consumer choice in matters like this is in the corporation’s best interest.

NBC is telling its web audience that it only wants to hear from people who are part of the Facebook ecosystem. I believe that is short-sighted. I know that Facebook may be the 800-pound social networking gorilla, but not everyone in the U.S. — or the world, for that matter — has opted in. Moreover, many people who do have Facebook accounts choose to use the service minimally.

And given Facebook’s change-of-heart on which information it will decide tomorrow should be public (even though it was once-upon-a-time private or controlled by the individual), why would I entrust it with additional information about my digital meanderings?

Maybe that’s why the comments seem sparse in the “Get In The Games” blog — the one that has as its subtitle “Share your thoughts on all the action at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.” I checked out today’s post (no comments) and Friday’s (only 14). There’s a thumbs up (but no thumb down) button — but no indication that anyone has actually endorsed either post. It was clicking the “like” link as a test (I wanted to see what I’d need to do regarding registration) that lead to the Facebook Connect popup.

Just say no to any commercial (or government!) web site that provides only one proprietary way to interact — whether it’s Facebook Connect or Twitter or Google. Well, do more than say no silently — speak up and tell them why you are saying no.

And think twice before using Facebook Connect.

This post first appeared at WiredPen

Addendum: I realized last night that I had only tried to vote, not comment. The login set my teeth on such edge that I forgot to double-check the comment rules. Who in their right mind makes it harder to vote than to comment? To vote, you have to log in with Facebook Connect. To comment, you can be anonymous, which is the most harebrained system I can imagine.

KATHY GILL, Technology Policy Analyst
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