Twitter Takes On Facebook Connect, Releasing "Sign In With Twitter"

Like Facebook’s authentication service, Facebook Connect, it will allow Web users to sign into participating third-party sites with their Twitter IDs.

It’s got the developer types all giddy. ReadWriteWeb’s Marshall Kirkpatrick writes, “It seems quite similar to Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect in a number of ways. It may be more exciting though, because Twitter is a fundamentally different beast.”

When I give you my Facebook “calling card” using Facebook Connect, that system has a long list of do’s and don’ts for what developers can do with the data. It’s letting sites borrow the data – not setting data free.

Twitter’s version of the calling card should be more developer friendly and it’s already more standards adherent, which is another way to say developer friendly. Prove you are who you say you are to Twitter and it will give sites you approve a big open field of your data to work with. In other words, web developers should be able to do a whole lot more for me when I give them my Twitter calling card than if I give them one from Facebook.

Yahoo’s Eran Hammer-Lahav is equally reverential in a post on his personal blog:

It is Open done right.

When Facebook introduced their Connect product, they offered sites two key features: the ability to use existing Facebook accounts for their own needs, and access Facebook social data to enhance the site. The value of Facebook Connect is to save sites the need to build their own social layer.

What Twitter is doing with ‘Sign-in with Twitter’ is very different. They are giving sites already tightly integrated with their service, a way to delegate authentication with practically zero cost. In other words, if you implement the new Twitter OAuth API, you get ‘Sign-in with Twitter’ for free. It is not about yet another layer, but doing more with that you’ve already got.

So what does “Sign in with Twitter” mean for Twitter and Facebook’s finances? Not much right now, but potentially a lot. We think one way Facebook could finally make a lot of money is for it to help publishers better understand who their visitors are so they can show them more relevant ads; call it a Facebook Connect Ad Network. If publishers feel like they can do a lot more with “Sign in with Twitter,” though, Facebook Connect might not reach the adoption levels necessary for that ad network to be much useful.

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