Facebook ConnectMany web sites are using Facebook Connect for Authentication (AKA SSO- Single Sign On) as a way for people to be able to log in to the site,. Whether for downloads, games or to comment, this is an easy way for your users to log in without having to give you information. Seems like a no-brainer then right? Mebbe so, mebbe not. Here are some pros and cons of Facebook Authentication. I’d love to hear what YOU think in the comments.

Pros

  • Easy for a user to quickly log in, reduces barrier to entry
  • Allows you to integrate Facebook content and friend information on your web site (Ginny and 6 friends like this)
  • Facebook users have a tendency to provide accurate information in their profiles and you can pull some of that information into your web site. (Hello Jane, Happy birthday!)
  • Virality of signup, sharing and invitations
  • Leverage the social graph of each user. Welcome your users by name and show them what their friends have “liked” on your site.

Cons

  • Must be a Facebook user to use it.
  • If Facebook goes down the user can’t connect.
  • You cede the registration information to a third-party (Facebook) and you lose the ability to contact them directly through the site or by email unless you gather that separately.
  • People are sometimes put off by the “Authorize this site to access your information” screen
  • Facebook gets the data on any actions the user takes on your web site, not you
  • Your users (and you) are bound by Facebook’s Terms of Use even while on your web site, if those terms change you’re responsible to update users.
  • If a user terminates their Facebook account or is terminated, their access on your site disappears
  • Duplicate accounts can occur if you offer a standard registration form in addition to Facebook Authentication
  • Unlike some other SSO options, Facebook Connect is not built using open standards and can change at any time.

The best of both worlds

All this said it’s not black and white. You can use elements of Facebook Connect via their Social Plugins and Open Graph on your site without using it as your main login mechanism while maintaining a connection with your users and keeping their data safe.

Apps like Punchtab and Loyalty Plus allow you to offer a rewards program on your web site through Facebook no matter how they log in.

Add Sharing, Like and Commenting with Facebook social plugins.

Use social invites so users can invite their friends to join the site.

Add Like, Share and Send buttons to your content.

All in all I prefer to use a super simple login (name, email, password) to encourage people to join, and then leverage aspects of Facebook Social Plugins as it seems fitting to the site.

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