The social-networking giant today announced a new product to make MySpace profile data more portable to other areas of the web. They're calling the new service Data Availability, and it allows MySpace users to indicate whether they would like to make information in their MySpace profile visible on other sites, too. Those sites include eBay, Twitter, Yahoo and the Fox Interactive Media-owned Photobucket service, although MySpace said it would like to expand it to other partners who might be interested.
To use the Twitter service as an example, a MySpace user who goes to sign up for Twitter might see an icon that indicates that she can import MySpace profile data into Twitter. Clicking on that icon takes the user to her MySpace sign-in page, where she will be verified as the actual MySpace member, and then be presented with a series of prompts about importing that data to Twitter. It will also allow users to automatically locate their MySpace friends who are using Twitter.
The service essentially turns MySpace into a place where users can manage many of their online profiles. Updates to a MySpace profile will be automatically reflected in other profiles around the web.
For example, if a MySpace user loves "American Idol" and has listed it as a favorite TV show on the social-networking site, she could authorize that information to show up in her profiles on other sites participating in Data Availability. But if one day she decided she didn't like "American Idol" after all and deleted it from her MySpace profile, the change would immediately and automatically be reflected in her profiles on the other sites.
Right now, users can only choose to share all their MySpace profile data with other services, but eventually more-granular controls will allow them to indicate which specific pieces of data can be shared with specific sites.
"A lot of people have been asking for this, but there's been a fear because people think that by building walls around users, you can lock users in," said Jim Benedetto, senior VP-technology for MySpace. "But as we break down the walls, we can make the internet itself a significantly more social and collaborative experience." He believes that will lead to higher engagement on sites like MySpace.
When asked on a conference call whether Facebook would eventually become involved in the program, MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe said: "This project is open to any site out there that wants to work with us. We're happy to work with Facebook if they want to join up with us on this project."