Facebook's new initiative, Facebook Connect, pushes features to other Web sites and allows developers to tap member data, if users allow it.
The leader of a youth movement that swept the world this past year by encouraging Web users to share bits of their lives with selected friends, spoke on Wednesday of spreading his service across the Web, even while apologizing for past excesses.
Mark Zuckerberg, 24, told an audience of 1,000 industry executives, software makers, media--and his mother and father--at Facebook's annual conference of how the company's features will run on affiliated sites outside its own.
"Facebook Connect" will transform the social network from a private site where activity occurs entirely within a "walled garden" to a Web-wide phenomenon where software makers, with user permission, can tap member data for use on their sites.
"Facebook Connect is our version of Facebook for the rest of the Web," Zuckerberg told the second annual F8 conference.
Facebook, begun in 2004 as a socializing site for students at Harvard University, has seen its growth zoom to 90 million members from 24 million a little over a year ago, overtaking rival MySpace to become the world's largest social network.
It has lured 400,000 developers to build programs for it since opening up its site in May 2007. Now Facebook is letting designers build software on affiliated sites, for mobile phones or as services that tap desktop applications like Microsoft's Outlook e-mail system. In coming months, it said it would let designers building software for Facebook simultaneously create versions for Apple's iPhone.
"As time goes on, less of this movement is going to be about Facebook and the platform we have created and more about the applications other people have built," Zuckerberg said. "This year, we are going to push for parity between applications on and off Facebook."
In doing so, the social network is positioning itself to play a role similar to what Microsoft has long had for developers within its Windows operating system.
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