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Google "Out-Opens" Facebook

Today's technology news is all about Google vs. Facebook, after the search giant announced a common application programming interface that lets software developers create programs to run within a whole host of social networking Web sites. The idea is to let developers keep the information they obtain about various sites and their activity across different sites so that advertisers may target them better.

Google signed 12 major partners for the initiative, called OpenSocial, including LinkedIn Corp., Ning, Inc. Friendster Inc., Hi5 Networks, and B2B giants Oracle and Salesforce.com. It also signed up several developers. Conspicuous by their absence, were Facebook and MySpace, which jumped on the developer platform idea earlier in the year, although their "open" platforms remain closed within their sites. Google's idea is for true Web software democracy across the Internet.

Thus far, it's unclear how Google plans to profit from this, but if you can imagine a future where social media services are completely intertwined with the entire Web experience--and where consumers divulge information about themselves in exchange for control over how others view them--then you can imagine a new, comprehensive future for targeted advertising. Then the question becomes: Who owns the data?

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Read the whole story at The Wall Street Journal »

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