Facebook Connect's open rival arrives

Meebo's new open platform, Xauth, simplifies content sharing on Web by detecting users' preferred communication and social networking services.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

Social network integrator Meebo launched a new platform that is able to detect social networking channels preferred by the user, to simplify third-party Web site content sharing and increase social engagement.

In a statement released Monday, Meebo announced the launch of Extended Authentication (Xauth). The company added that Open Identity Exchange and OpenID Foundation are planning to facilitate a consortium to host the technology.

XAuth is able to recognize the communication or social networking service users previously signed in and accessed, and allow users to share content with that service. According to the XAuth Web site, participating services generate a token for each user. The Web site publisher is then able to recognize the services users had signed into and present the relevant options.

Previously, publishers would need to anticipate which services their visitors would use and present them with a laundry list. Users would then need to select their preferred service to share content.

"Enabling users to communicate and share across any Web site, with anyone, in a secure fashion, is simply a natural progression to the Web's social phenomenon," said Seth Sternberg, Meebo's co-founder and CEO.

Services supporting XAuth include Google, Microsoft, MySpace and Yahoo. Facebook and Twitter, which already have similar initiatives Facebook Connect and Twitter @Anywhere, are not part of the project.

Xauth will be available on the Meebo Bar, a widget Web publishers can include on their Web site to allow social sharing of their Web site.

A ReadWriteWeb report noted that while Meebo does not see Facebook as a competitor, the social networking giant is unlikely to participate in XAuth.

With its Facebook Connect, the site wants sharing and identity to start and end with Facebook, the report stated, noting that Facebook and Twitter already own "the most dominant cross-site authentication system the world has ever known".

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