Seeing the explosion in growth of Twitter right now, it’s pretty clear that the hot trend on the web is to have a service which acts as a central hub for information, and allows third-party sites and services to built on top of it. For most of its life, Facebook has been almost the exact opposite, insisting that developers work from within its walls to keep much of the data — and the users — there. Tomorrow, it looks like Facebook may be knocking down its dam to let its streams of data flow more freely.
Facebook is expected to announce that third-parties will now have access to data from the site that was previously unavailable, before an event set to take place at 4PM PST tomorrow. The Wall Street Journal has a few of the details, including that developers should be able to access the all-important photos and videos that users upload. Apparently, these third-party developers, assuming they get users’ permission to use this data, could build their own sites and services with some of it.
Also of note is that apparently Facebook will begin supporting more open standards for the transporting of data. It’s not yet clear exactly what this will mean, but presumably it could help alleviate some of the issues I wrote about last week in noting that Facebook, Google and others were creating what were essentially proprietary profiles, that forced all of us to actively use and update all of their services. I’ll be very interested to see what this means when it comes to Facebook Connect.
If Facebook really is opening most of its data, it would seem to me it’s a smart move to stop some of the momentum that smaller rivals, like Twitter, are getting. After all, Facebook still has its big stick — over 200 million users and more importantly, their data. Now it may be able to fully swing it.