Linking Data Across Social Networks APIs

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Monday Session 5 Space F

Conference: IIW10 May 17-19, 2009 this is the complete Complete Set of Notes

Rohit gave a brief description of his company's product:

short description: it uses the APIs of various social networks the
user is part of, and aggregates the user's social graph over all of

Next a round of introductions.  

Some projects represented:

  • Dreamboat - Mozilla

  • Familysearch - geneology
Opensocial foundation

  • IBM services

  • Games
BT - social network aware telephony

  • 43things - community site


  1. is there business value from linking data?

  2. how? how to make it open and standard so anyone can do it?

  3. combine graphs of people (the 'address book' metaphor is out of
date -- relationships mean more than contact info)
# as service providers, how to correlate identities using the partial
data available (ie. is "Rohit K" the same as "Rohit Khare")

  4. is there a policy layer -- "copy rights" for portability, reversibility

The list of APIs (some used by, some introduced in the session): 

* facebook 
* linkedin 
* twitter

  • myspace

* gmail

  • yahoo

  • flickr

  • msn/windows
  • live

  • hyves

see also the chart that Rohit should be emailing

Issues/problems when integrating with specific APIs:


  • privacy settings are not computable (you can't calculate whether
you are allowed to share information you got from facebook -- you have
to make another API call to ask them)
  • you can't get email/phone numbers unless you are special


  • it's hard to look up by email
  • the data retention policy is unknown -- they can audit you but the
policy is not well specified
  • heavily throttled


  • short lived sessions: 30-60 minutes
  • user gets an email notification every time you get a new session


  • friends list is first name only

One of the ways to implement the "which of my friends is on this site"
is by searching by plaintext email.  However, using plaintext email is
overkill, since you don't need to reveal that information.  Can use
hashed email instead.

Webfinger is another way to interoperate between social networks using
the email address as the key.

The problems to solve are:

  • technical

  • business

  • legal