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Facebook steps into OpenID Foundation

We may not see OpenID coming to Facebook Connect anytime soon, but this is a big step for the social network that many open-standards advocates once wrote off for its walled-garden nature.

Facebook has joined the board of the OpenID Foundation and will host an OpenID Design Summit later this month, according to a post on the social network's developer blog.

This is a bit of a surprise because Facebook has developed its own universal log-in standard, Facebook Connect, which theoretically competes with the nonprofit OpenID standard. It should be noted that Facebook has not yet announced any official plans to make the two compatible, and that just joining the board and hosting an event might not quell the criticism from open-source advocates who say Facebook is still too proprietary in its nature.

Engineer Luke Shepard will be Facebook's representative on the OpenID Foundation board, a corresponding post on the OpenID blog explained, adding that Shepard has been "a huge internal advocate for OpenID" at Facebook. The board also consists of members from Google, IBM, Microsoft, PayPal, VeriSign, and Yahoo as well as seven elected "community" members. Many of the corporate board members joined about a year ago; OpenID creator Brad Fitzpatrick is now employed by Google and has helped to build its OpenSocial developer platform standard.

"Given the popularity and positive user experience of Facebook Connect, we look forward to Facebook working within the community to improve OpenID's usability and reach," the post by David Recordon and Chris Messina read.

Facebook's blog post, written by engineering VP Mike Schroepfer, expressed similar goals. "It is our hope that we can take the success of Facebook Connect and work together with the community to build easy-to-use, safe, open and secure distributed identity frameworks for use across the Web," Schroepfer wrote.

Facebook made a significant portion of its developer platform code open-source last summer.