Arguably the most significant conflict in social media history has erupted. It all started with a seemingly friendly --- as in the fledgling Google Friend Connect --- salvo that has alarmed Facebook to the point that it is denying service to the new social application.
Google followed both Facebook and MySpace into a three-day announcement binge on forms of data portability. They're all essentially efforts to grant wider distribution of curated data, and naturally there is plenty at stake.
Google's gesture has Facebook in a bind, in that Facebook users' data suddenly can't be transported to other applications. Which raises the question: Whose data is it --- the users' or the users' application? On that simple plain, Facebook users are bound to be scratching their heads soon.
It is, of course, a little less simple than that. If data is portable, what use is Facebook or MySpace or Twitter? They need that information --- the social graph --- to stay put so they can figure out how to mine it. In essence they're saying: You're in our home, and regardless of how you decorated it and socialized in it, it's still our home and you can't just leave.
Now, there are services like Zude that are doing this by stealth. But when Google knocks, the house shakes.
With a nice snippet of code and a thinking-ahead strategy, Google is essentially offering to pry loose information from other applications to an open source that would, in theory, also deliver advertising. How Google Friend Connect fares is secondary to the strategy of creating more open source identification applications --- which, in turn, plays into Google AdSense. At least, that's the best guess at the strategy.