Facebook Becomes an Aggregator, Too

Cracks Forming in the Wall?

In a move thats been expected for a while, Facebook has just enter the lifestream aggregation space (alongside Plaxo Pulse, FriendFeed, and a list of companies that grows nearly every week). Out the door, they are only supporting handful of external sources (Flickr, del.icio.us, Picasa, and Yelp), but they say many more are on the way.

Does this move make sense? Absolutely. Is it, as TechCrunch’s Mark Hendkrickson says, a threat to FriendFeed? Sort of. Eric Eldon, of Venture Beat, raises that question, as well.

But I see this as a very natural evolution, as we make our way from the era of “walled gardens” over to the open world of the Social Web. In that world, the user will be at the center, owning their own data and content, with the freedom to take it with them wherever they go. In that ecosystem, their will be a service layer that connects the user to myriad socially-enabled sites. That Social Web sevice layer will have three main components:

– Identity provider
– Social graph provider
– Content aggregator

Some players, like Facebook and Plaxo, will likely provide all three services, while others might focus on one or two. For example, Clickpass and Yahoo! are clearly playing in the “identity provider” space already, with consumer-friendly implementations of OpenID. The social graph provider space is the one that doesn’t yet exist, but is at the core of the vision for “data portability.” Expect interesting developments there in the coming months.

Other coverage include’s Mashable’s Paul Glazowski, here, and a nice piece by CNET’s Caroline McCarthy, which raises the interesting question of whether there is a revenue arrangment involved. Interesting question…

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5 thoughts on “Facebook Becomes an Aggregator, Too

  1. Eric Eldon says:

    John, what do you think about my rationale for why Facebook is kinda (I did say kinda) threatening to Twitter? Fine if you disagree, I just want to understand why.

  2. therealmccrea says:

    Eric, I suppose I should correct myself. Certainly, they are “kinda” threatening to any other social site, but, I think my point would be that in this move Twitter would not be in their crosshairs. This is a step (albeit a small one) in transitioning Facebook from a social network to a part of the emerging open Social Web ecosystem. It is ironic, though, that the feeds go in , but they don’t go out (like they do from Plaxo Pulse or FriendFeed).

    In this emerging ecosystem, aggregators play a key role in helping sites like Twitter grow their user base.

  3. Eric Eldon says:

    John, I wasn’t saying that this new Facebook feature will affect Twitter. I was just saying that it may affect Friendfeed like Twitter was kinda affected by Facebook status updates last year.

  4. therealmccrea says:

    Eric, my apologies. I miss-read your post! I have edited mine to better reflect your core point.

  5. […] Pulse, FriendFeed, socialthing!, and now Facebook are a few of the top names in the space.  As John McCrea of Plaxo says, this is a natural evolution of the Social Web with the user at the […]

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