Facebook launches universal login scheme

Facebook Thursday , an extension of the Facebook Platform which allows participating websites to use Facebook authentication credentials to let users log in and comment -- and simultaneously send that information back to users' Facebook Profile pages, generating free page views for that site.

At launch, Facebook users can use their Facebook logins to make reviews on CitySearch, comment on TechCrunch, and review gadgets on CNET, among others.

The system competes with other authentication platforms like OpenID -- but unlike OpenID, Facebook Connect has value for everyone involved. It is likely, given the broad reach of Facebook, that many TechCrunch and CNET readers have Facebook accounts and will prefer to use one login across a variety of sites. Additionally, users will have activity data -- if they choose to allow it -- shunted to their Facebook profiles and News Feeds of their friends.

I suspect this will be the first universal login scheme that truly catches on. Facebook is large enough, with a large enough installed userbase, that other websites will be glad to tap into it -- plus the ability for activity data to show up on Facebook, potentially driving readers back to partner sites just sweetens the pot.

It may take a little while for some sites to jump on board, however. Drew Curtis, owner of told The Standard that he had no plans at the moment to integrate Facebook Connect with Fark's login system. "It doesn't pay to be an early adopter, but if it takes off, we'll jump in," Curtis said. As a small site, Fark "doesn't have the financial resources to spend a lot of time and money on projects that aren't 100% guaranteed to work."