Facebook Connect: a failure to understand online identity management

[Commentary] Facebook has recently announced the rollout of a new feature called Facebook Connect, which will allow users to login to other websites using their Facebook identity and information and which will then potentially feed back to a users Facebook network information about their actions on the site. Sold as an identity management system, and similar to programs announced this year by other major Internet players like MySpace and Google, and these features purport to save the user time and energy by allowing them to port over personal information and in the case of Facebook, privacy features, as well as to up the social nature of the use of these secondary sites by allowing users to "bring their friends along." However, these new tools seem to ignore a fundamental disconnect between our online and offline identities. In the offline world, we don't present ourselves in the same way to all people in our lives - we show different sides of ourselves to our mothers, our friends, our employers. And even in the age of fine-grained privacy tools, those tools do not eliminate the complexity of figuring out how to best present oneself in a multi-use public space, particularly for those who have personal, professional and family contacts on these sites.



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