MySpace's "data portability" initiative goes live today - prepare to be locked-in

News Corp.-owned MySpace will today officially launch its MySpace Data Availability Project, the company's previously announced so-called "data portability" initiative in which users will be able to optionally share their public profile data with participating sites, along with their MySpace photos, MySpaceTV videos and friend lists.

News Corp.-owned MySpace will today officially launch its MySpace Data Availability Project, the company's previously announced so-called "data portability" initiative in which users will be able to optionally share their public profile data with participating sites, along with their MySpace photos, MySpaceTV videos and friend lists.

"Later in the day all of the external data APIs will go live and the supporting documentation will be posted on the MDP Developer site", according to the official MySpace Developer Team blog.

As the developer of an independent website you can now enable your users to leverage the power of their social data outside of the MySpace.com domain. Our users spend hours updating and making changes to their profiles, uploading content, and building friend relationships. With your help that data can now be available to MySpace users no matter where they go on the internet.

Sites that signed on early to support MySpace Data Availability include big hitters Yahoo, Twitter and eBay.

As Mike Arrington over at TechCrunch says, MySpace's initiative goes much further than Google's offering 'Friend Connect' which controls data sent to third party sites via an iframe. Instead MySpace Data Availability is "actually streaming data to... [participating] sites, which allows for true integration between the services, not just a bolted-on social tool." Or more specifically, when an integrated site wants to display or utilize a user's MySpace data it must request it from MySpace's servers 'on the fly' each and every time - the only thing that can be cached is the user ID.

"That means any changes by the user to their MySpace profile data or friends list will be instantly applied across third parties who access the data", notes Arrington.

It also means that, presuming lots of sites sign up to use MySpace's Data Availability APIs, MySpace can become the default social control panel in this emerging Internet operating system, much in the way that Facebook aims to be.

As I noted in my previous post:

If you’ve ever wondered why incumbents like MySpace would ever let users take their data with them onto other sites (as I have done), here lies the answer. Under Data Availability, MySpace profiles are essentially synced with partnering sites. Make a change to your MySpace page, and all the optionally linked accounts on other sites are updated. That way MySpace becomes the central data point for controlling your profile and other synced data elsewhere on the Web.

And for those that may worry about putting too many of our social eggs into one site's basket, things get worse.

... what would happen to that MySpace data synced to third-party sites if a user chooses to close their MySpace account. If profile information and other linked data were to disappear — knocked down like a house of cards — can we really call that data portability?

Since MySpace user data used by partnering sites can't be cached - it's against the terms of service - that's exactly what would happen.

In this version of openness "data portability" really is the new customer lock-in.

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