There has been a lot of talk by Dave Winer and others about the idea that with the f8 Facebook release that Facebook wants to own my identity on the web.
In thinking about this overnight, I realized that Facebook, with its latest release has actually clarified to me that they no longer want to own my identity. They have essentially gotten rid of all of the restrictions on how I import and export the data about me from Facebook. There are no more rules that say I can't, for example, export my pictures or other data to another application.
The one thing that the rules still prohibit me from doing is moving my friend list to another application. Essentially, they own my address book.
What I realized about this is that this is a much bigger deal. I really don't care that much if they keep my pictures. But by encouraging me to build up my social network in Facebook, and then saying I can't export it, they are really positioning Facebook as the unbreakable center of my online universe. If they succeed in making me use Facebook for real productive uses, as is signaled by their Microsoft Docs partnership, then I will really be locked into them. Then I have to think, can I trust them. Will they be evil in a Googley "don't be evil" sort of way? They haven't made any such pledge, and even if they had, Mark Zuckerberg just doesn't feel like the touchy feely do-gooder type.
In a certain sense, this is not news. They have always wanted to own my relationships. But by eliminating all of the other restrictions, and by making Facebook much more broadly useful, they have brought this issue into full relief, and made clear what they really think is important. And I, for one, am quite worried about fully turning over my relationships to them.
Unfortunately, as a developer I am not sure I have much choice but to support it. In fact, I am quite sure we will support it. And that fact, and the fact that most of us in the developer community will do so for our own selfish, short term reasons, may be our collective undoing.