Conceding to the ubiquity of Facebook as the default form of identity on the Web while helping further it, Yahoo announced a partnership with the social network on Wednesday that will enable users of Yahoo’s home page, mail, and other sites to share content with friends using their Facebook accounts. The five-year agreement, which includes no financial compensation, will begin to take effect in the first half of 2010.
Soon, visitors to Yahoo’s home page will be able to see a full “news feed” of the activity of their Facebook friends, as well as use their Facebook name and password to leave comments on news stories at sites like Yahoo! Sports and Yahoo! Finance. The planned changes will also allow content created on Yahoo sites, such as Flickr photos, to be sent to Facebook with the click of a button.
Yahoo hopes to achieve two goals with the partnership, says Cody Simms, senior director of product management: “Making Yahoo stickier and helping syndicate content.” More than half (52%) of U.S. visitors to Yahoo sites also use Facebook, according to comScore, and the hours they spend flirting and fraternizing with buddies on the social network is time they could be perusing Yahoo’s pages, which are supported by ads. Subsequently, Yahoo hopes each time users send photos, comments, and other content back to their Facebook feed, it will entice onlookers to click through to Yahoo sites.
It’s a win for Facebook and a setback for Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and other companies with ambitions on becoming the standard identity manager for users all over the Web. “You’re seeing the beginning of a move toward that consolidation,” says Josh Bernoff, who follows social media in his role as senior vice president of idea development at Forrester Research. “Strategically, Yahoo understands that allying itself with the most powerful social network is going to be more successful than trying to win with an ID of its own,” he says.
The Yahoo-Facebook tie-up may deal the strongest blow to OpenID, a movement to create a non-proprietary standard for identity and authentication on the Web. Some advocates for OpenID contend that the use of Facebook as an ID by millions of Internet users consolidates too much power in the hands of one company.