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Apologizing, Then Forging Ahead

By Reuters  |  Posted 07-24-2008 Print

Facebook's new initiative, Facebook Connect, pushes features to other Web sites and allows developers to tap member data, if users allow it.

Driving the popularity of Facebook has been a wave of more than 24,000 applications from independent software makers that work within site. But the last year's rapid growth has come at the cost of frequent abuses by software developers of members' privacy. Company officials admitted that they shut down 1,000 applications for privacy violations in the past year.

Connect marks a new effort by Facebook to expand outside its own site after it retreated from an earlier effort called Beacon that was decried by privacy advocates and which connected member activities inside Facebook to sites outside.

"We took this approach of getting it (Facebook's open software development platform) out as quickly as possible ... We just iterated as fast as we could," Zuckerberg said. "I am also the first to admit we made a lot of mistakes."

Facebook said it is implementing a stringent verification process for developers to reassure users their private personal information will be securely handled outside Facebook.

In a move that drew complaints from developers left out, Facebook named 24 preferred partners it feels have set high standards for respecting users' privacy. Others can apply to participate in Connect in coming weeks, a spokesman said.

Among others, early partners include CBS, Citysearch, CNET, CollegeHumor, Digg, Disney-ABC TV, Evite, Flock, Hulu, Kongregate, Loopt, Plaxo, Radar, Red Bull, Seesmic, Six Apart, Socialthing, StumbleUpon, Twitter, Uber, Vimeo and Xobni.

The push to expand software development efforts across the Web and onto multiple devices comes as Microsoft, the world's biggest software maker, said its top Internet executive had resigned--the latest blow to its strategy as it seeks to merge with Yahoo and take on Web leader Google Inc.

Microsoft took a small stake in Facebook last October that valued Facebook, a four-year-old start-up with a little over 500 employees, at $15 billion.

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