Lisa Merriam

Facebook Connect’s Brand Trust Disconnect

More and more Web sites are offering the “Connect with Facebook” option–but could the initiative suffer brand trust issues?

facebook brand trustIt appears Facebook Connect is succeeding where others have failed (most notably Microsoft’s Passport product). They are becoming the default internet ID card, saving users from having to create user names and passwords for every site they interact with.

Facebook Connect’s success is partly due to the fact that many people don’t understand Facebook’s many security flaws, partly because people really do want to share articles and commentary with their friends, and partly because site owners are happy to outsource their identity login systems and push Facebook Connect. Microsoft’s Passport never enjoyed these adoption drivers.

Yet how far will Facebook Connect go before it hits the same brick wall that stopped Microsoft?

Brand trust will be the ultimate limiting factor. Facebook makes constant security blunders. Just this last weekend, they enabled third party partners to access users’ private information without giving users clear notice and without explicitly allowing users to control access. ZDNet reported this latest bungle with the tongue-in-cheek observation, “I know I want the likes of FarmVille, and all their partners, to have my home address and phone number.”

More than likely, Facebook Connect will work fine in social settings, but won’t gain any traction in commercial settings. It is one thing for a hacker to break into your Huffington Post identity, but quite another for them to access all your bank accounts. The Facebook brand just has too many well-deserved trust problems.

(If you seek to thwart Facebook attempts to exploit your private information, read ZDNet’s advice in their Definitive Facebook Lockdown Guide.)