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I'm noticing an increasing trend of sites that offer Facebook authentication. However, I don't really want an account myself.

Would my disdain of the service proper ever be overruled by use of it's authentication feature?

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I think this is completely on topic, though a tiny bit speculative. Web apps do not do well with identity, and the whole "gee, let me individually log into these FIFTY DIFFERENT sites" problem is a huge one for all webapps. –  Jeff Atwood Jul 22 '10 at 4:17
    
@Jeff - You make it sound as if Facebook Connect and using a username/password are the only two options. What about a decentralized system like OpenID? –  MiffTheFox Aug 2 '10 at 2:31
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5 Answers 5

up vote 9 down vote accepted

It won't be required, because a lot of web apps devs are the type of people who do care about Facebook's privacy problems (unlike average Joe). It will increasingly be an option, but never nessecary, and Id say other options, like Twitter or openID will also be promoted.

However, none of us on this site can predict the future.

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+1 because I hope you're right :) –  Daniel Vassallo Jul 20 '10 at 23:14
    
+1 Webmasters that don't know any better (the minority) will rely solely on FB Connect for authentication but the majority will appeal to a open authentication platform that doesn't violate their users privacy. OpenID/OAuth are gaining a lot more momentum in this arena. Even Facebook uses it to authenticate its users now. I don't think it will be much of an issue in the near future. –  Evan Plaice Jul 21 '10 at 1:59
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+1 It will always remain an option. Atleast as long as there are competitors around. If a site choses to force it(facebook signin) upon you, then they stand to lose. –  thunderror Jul 21 '10 at 7:42
    
@thunderror, they may lose some potential customers in that sense, but they can also gain through the value of shared facebook user information that they get access to. They can also take advantage of some of the pre-built infrastructure and integration that Facebook offers their partners, and perhaps an easy avenue into an incredibly large audience. On balance this may be commercially attractive. –  William Jul 21 '10 at 11:08
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Let us not forget OpenID, you used it to authenticate here.

Don't forget it, and talk it up. In the same way that we all would probably have been better off without Microsoft's effective 2 decade hammerlock on the personal computing realm, we really don't want the gates of the internet falling into one firm's hands.

(Yeah, the statement about Microsoft is highly debatable and I could argue both sides equally well, but that's not my point. Substitute "Standard Oil" if you don't like criticism of MS. Disclosure: I have zero connection to the OpenID Foundation.)

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The prolbem with OpenID is that most people don't know what it is and it confuses normal users on a login page. –  DoNotInstall Jul 21 '10 at 9:08
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@Ian: I don't disagree. Then again, most people also had to learn how to log into multiple sites with multiple password requirements, how to ignore mail from Nigerian bankers, and not to run "EatMyFace.exe" attachments sent by "Joe". Some people are still not very good at any of these tasks ;) –  msw Jul 21 '10 at 23:32
    
The thing about OpenID is that if you don't trust, say Google, you can always authenticate with a different provider, or even create your own if you have webspace. –  MiffTheFox Aug 2 '10 at 2:44
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Most likely.

Web app developers are looking for ways to have less friction to get people using their service, and given that many of their users will have a Facebook account, this is often added as an alternate method of signin.

However, I have seen that generally if Facebook is offered, Twitter usually is offered too, so if you are averse to using Facebook, how do you feel about Twitter?

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But I don't believe there will be many occasions where Facebook is your only option - you should either be able to use an alternate sign on method such as Twitter authentication, or OpenID, or just the regular old 'create account'. –  tobeannounced Jul 21 '10 at 7:09
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I would certainly hope not. In spite of the very logical and compelling argument DoNotInstall gives in his answer, I think it's completely irresponsible for any web app developer (or end-user, for that matter) to rely exclusively on any one third-party company or service for authentication, with the possible exception of OpenID.

Let's say you built a popular web app that only uses Facebook for authentication. In the unlikely event that Facebook is ever temporarily or permanently taken offline (by a bad update, DDoS atttack, SOPA/PIPA type of law, or even bankruptcy), what do you do? More importantly, what do the end-users who have come to rely on your app do? If you supported more than one form of authentication, this wouldn't be too big a problem in the long run, but if you were relying solely on Facebook you're dead in the water.

Personally I think any responsible web app developer should always keep these kinds of things in mind and, if using third-party services for authentication, always support more than one. I think it's also a good idea to always support username/password or email/password authentication as a last resort in case any of those third-parties fail.

Disclosure: Up until now, I've relied solely on Facebook to sign in to my StackExchange account. Thinking about your question and my answer has prompted me to add my Twitter and Google accounts as options. As unlikely as it is that Facebook will ever be taken down, I think it's even more unlikely that Facebook, Google and Twitter will all three be taken down at the same time.

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And unfortunately, I see that Twitter is not an option here.. so I went with Google and Yahoo instead (I also think it's extremely unlikely that Facebook, Google, and Yahoo will ever all three be taken out at any one time). –  stevenh512 Mar 3 '12 at 14:36
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A lot of people will not like what I am writing, I would not choose to only support Facebook login myself; however a good case for doing so can be made!

I am now getting a problem with website that allows me to use Facebook, OpenID, and custom password etc, in that I can’t always remember the logon system I used!

So there is a case to make for only supporting Facebook, and then making use of the Facebook friends system, so your customers can tell their friends about you if they wish. If you also have adverts on Facebook, the case for only supporting Facebook login gets even better.

These days you can make a lot of money by being the best option for 10% of the possible customers while doing something that 80% of the possible customers hate! So being all thing to all people on a login page may not be the best option, see “The Purple Cow

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