SXSW: MySpaceID’s Anonymity Versus Facebook Connect’s Identity

Both social networking pioneers MySpace and Facebook are making big pushes into friend portability. With MySpaceID and Facebook Connect, you can use your same user name and password to log in to various sites throughout the Internet, and interact with your existing group of friends directly on those sites.

Which one are you and your friends more likely to use in coming years? For now, that mostly comes down to which of the two sites you’re already most at home in. But a big point of differentiation between MySpaceID and Facebook Connect, and one that has potential to win News Corp-owned MySpace users from its currently dominating rival, is the amount of anonymity you want to have while you cruise around the Web.

On Facebook, which began as a site open only to verified students of certain universities, you’re heavily encouraged to use your real name as your online identity. That makes it easier for old high school friends to find you, and creates a sense of trust that you know who you’re dealing with when you meet new people on the site. Likewise, Facebook Connect asks you to use your real name to log into other sites, such as Citysearch and Hulu – which may raise some hairy privacy issues as the product rolls out to the masses and these sites begin looking to target advertising based on Facebook-powered activities.

Alternatively, MySpaceID lets you use any name, including the fictitious handles many of its users have cultivated over the years. Here’s a video I took with MySpace’s Jason Oberfest and Max Engel, in which they discuss the benefits of anonymity online.

MySpaceID from Arik Hesseldahl on Vimeo.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.