Facebooking Second Life
The other issue mentioned on the article was, well, Facebook integration. Bloggers grid-wide have been mostly condemning any of LL’s attempts to integrate SL with Facebook, and complaining about the Facebook icons on the my.secondlife.com profile. People have been fearing RL/SL integration exposed through Facebook and arguing a lot about the pitfalls of allowing Facebook access to your SL profile (and vice-versa), or, worse, constant Wall messages letting your FB friends know where you are. But, to be honest, that’s really just a very minor aspect of possible integration: I propose a way deeper and fuller kind of integration 🙂
Well, first let me just present a disclaimer here. I’m not fond of Facebook, period. Zuckerberg is a very dangerous sociopath: if he weren’t the most famous recent CEO in the world, he’d be shut down at an asylum and force-fed drugs to keep him down. He doesn’t even attempt to disguise how he has created Facebook just to meet girls and sleep with them; his biography is full of his gloating about how he stole pictures of females by hacking his university’s servers, or how he was actually hired to develop a “social media website” by some other students, but thought that the idea was so good that he preferred to steal it and claim it as his own. But that’s not the worst; every millionaire has some skeletons in their closets. No, the worse thing is how Facebook is actually controlled by Digital Sky Technologies. Which in turn used to run Mail.ru, one of the leading mail services in the world — and the one from where most spam in the world originated. DST’s involvement in “legitimate spamming” and “automatic data profiling” has always been incredibly dubious to me — but when they moved to buy Zynga (of Farmville fame) and then Facebook, it was clear to me what they had in mind: legitimately putting in their pocket profiling data for 600 million world-wide users and profiting from ads through this new channel — thus distancing themselves from the shady past of illegal spamming, and becoming a “respectful” company.
So a sociopath hacker becomes a legitimate CEO of a company sold to a conglomerate of spammers and world-class hackers that also became legitimate over the years… by partnering with Zuckerberg. Right. The Italian Camorra (a Mafia-style organisation based in Naples) also runs a legitimate garbage business, but that doesn’t make the Camorra anything less than a criminal organisation. Nobody would trust their private data to the Mafia, even if they ran a perfectly legitimate social networking site (perhaps they already do…), but 600 million people have no problems with Zuckerberg, DST, and their associates.
And of course this all might just be a conspiracy to discredit Facebook and prepare the launch of Google’s +1 project, a Facebook “Like” clone which is integrated into Google’s search engine(s). I don’t know. I suggest people to investigate the biographies of Zuckerberg, of DST’s and Mail.ru’s founders, and of the Russian cybercriminals and reach their own conclusions…
Nevertheless, Facebook is unavoidable. So how could it be better integrated with SL?
It’s clear that the first step in joining SL should be by giving the option to log in with a Facebook account. SL is possibly the last social networking environment that doesn’t have a Facebook login, but requires a separate registration. The Facebook login should be optional, of course, but it should be an option.
As soon as the Facebook login is accepted, profile data would be exchanged in both directions. With checkboxes you would be allowed to see what Facebook will know about your SL avatar, and, reversely, what SL will show from your Facebook profile. The advantage? SL profiles wouldn’t start empty, but already with a lot of information, even RL pictures, which are a “must have” feature for a large part (not all!) of new residents.
Find friends on Facebook — and move them to SL
All Facebook applications work the same way: add the application, then go through your list of friends that already have added the same application and add them as “neighbours”, “clique members”, or whatever the application calls them; and, while you’re at it, invite a few more over 🙂
So what LL ought to do is to create a FB application just to “integrate” with SL. When joining for the first time, and using a Facebook login, this SL-to-FB “bridging” application would retrieve your friends from FB, and see if they’ve also got the SL-to-FB application installed (and have given the proper security clearance to retrieve their data too, of course). If so, you’d get an option to add all your existing friends to your SL friends list — and also invite more FB friends to download SL and join it, of course.
The advantage? One of the reasons so many Facebook games are successful is that you so often find at least a few of your friends already playing them. And finding friends in Facebook is easy. In SL, by contrast, unless you know your friends’ avatar names, it’s impossible to locate them. Facebook integration would bridge this huge gap and remove the handicap of having an empty friend list — one of the typical reasons for newbies to leave very soon (as they have no clue where their friends are).
SL does indeed have a place to show snapshots you’ve taken in-world, and the ability to send snapshots by email. It’s only obvious that this needs to be expanded to allow bi-directional photo exchange with Facebook: your SL profile should show the latest pictures from Facebook, and when taking a snapshot, if you have a Facebook login connected to your avatar, you should have a “Save to Facebook” option. This is so obvious that I hardly understand why it hasn’t been done; the ever-resourceful Katharine Berry has added a “Export to Flickr” option for the SL 2.X viewer, and I’m sure that something similar could — should! — be done for Facebook as well.