MySpace recently made news when it announced that it was breaking with its tradition and "bringing down the garden walls", allowing its user information to be shared. It also pledged to adopt open APIs and authentication interfaces. Of course, Facebook has already long had limited versions of such measures in place. Now Facebook is looking to keep up with its larger competitor, MySpace by open sourcing its application code.
According to news site TechCrunch, Facebook is planning to release the source code for its entire application platform. The move, according to the report, will be announced within a few days.
Facebook declined to comment on the reports.
The Application Platform from Facebook just celebrated its one year anniversary. It has been very popular due to strong user support for the varied and creative applications, funded in part by Facebook developer grants. However, some developers have defected to OpenSocial, another social platform. OpenSocial was created by Google and spun off as a non-profit and is an open source standard that any social network participating can use. MySpace, Bebo, and others are all on board.
Facebook in a way already opened its platform up prior to MySpace when it cut a deal with Bebo to allow Facebook applications to work in Bebo. However, without the adoption of the open platform, it now has fallen behind MySpace in terms of compatibility. It also took a major hit in terms of its reputation for openness when it banned a user temporarily for exporting his friends list for use with other networks.
Earlier this month Facebook announced "Facebook Connect" another open effort which sought to make it easier for user to connect their accounts with other sites such as Digg. The news came within days of MySpace’s announcement and Google's announcement of its new "Friend Connect" service.
While it appears that Facebook is preparing to make another leap towards more openness, many question whether the site will truly open source its code or perhaps just make it more "extensible" through new partnerships or developments. As one of the hottest web properties Facebook is in a position of leadership of sorts, so it should be interesting to see what kind of example it sets.