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Facebook to open its feeds to developers

Facebook to open its feeds to developers

Facebook is expected to announce its plans to open up its feeds to third party developers so they can build services atop them. The move is viewed as a swipe at Twitter.

Facebook is expected to announce its plans to open up its feeds to third party developers so they can build services atop them. The announcement will be made at a Facebook developer event on April 27.

According to the Wall Street Journal, which appears to have broken the story, Facebook plans to enable developers access to "information that appears in the stream of updates on users' homepages and profiles," which will enable developers to "build services that access the photos, videos, notes and comments users upload to Facebook, with users' permission."

The capability will be free for developers. And the opportunity vast, as Facebook has more than 200 million users.

"The plans, expected to be discussed at a developer event in Palo Alto on Monday, are Facebook's latest steps to become less of a destination and more of a service that allows people to connect and share information with their friends across the Web. The site, which was the first major social network to allow software developers to build services on top its platform, has seen some momentum around a service it built that allows people to connect with their Facebook friends on other Web sites."

Some say Facebook's move is a swipe at Twitter. Said Silicon Alley Insider:

"Many of those same third-party developers will likely modify their applications and services to include Facebook user streams. For example, it would be natural for Tweet Deck, which already tracks a user's friends' status updates on Facebook, to include those friends' videos, photos and shared links too.

"There's also a chance that some developers planning apps to tap into Twitter's 20 million users, might now decide they'd rather put their efforts into reaching 200 million."

And my main man, Steve Gillmor, at TechCrunch, said:

"While Twitter has tremendous advantages for newbies, the depth of Facebook and FriendFeed is more and more valuable as we rely on these networks for fail-over instant communications. FriendFeed's real-time direct messages will likely be duplicated in short order by Facebook, and the opportunity for meshing Facebook and Twitter together will prove irresistible to the hot Twitter client market, what with Tweetie for the Mac synchronizing with its leading iPhone app."

Meanwhile, the folks at All Facebook want to know more about just what is being announced. Nick O'Neill of All Facebook said the WSJ scoop by Jessica Vascellaro, "is a bit questionable though since everything she has mentioned is already available. Vascellaro states 'developers can build services that access the photos, videos, notes and comments users upload to Facebook, with users' permission.' Developers already had access to this information for months so there must be additional functionality, right?"

O'Neill adds:

"While there are hints of additional functionality, Vascellaro doesn't appear to reveal anything new. We've been writing for some time that Facebook is expected to open up two things: the feed and shared items. If developers could track shared items, this would be a huge opportunity and it would fall in line with Facebook's continued assault on Twitter. Why would this have such a significant impact?"

In addition, the WSJ article said developers will be able to pull the Facebook feed data using an open standard technology.

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