Facebook and Google Tout Portable Profiles

They join MySpace in letting social networkers move data, but the devil is in the details.

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That didn't take long. Facebook says it will let users share their profile data with other websites, just a day after competitor MySpace had said the same thing. Some reports suggest that Facebook one-upped MySpace by saying its users can take photos, personal info, and other features to any other site on the Web.

Not to be left out, Google also announced its "Friend Connect" initiative to link social networking data across the Web.

So clearly, there's a rush to make it easier to network the social networking sites. The services understand that it's a hassle to maintain separate profiles on the multitude of social sites.

But none of the announcements would be the ultimate answer that will let users set up one profile and move, copy, or synchronize data on any site they want. MySpace, for example, is limiting the sites where its users can share data. MySpace's partners include eBay, Yahoo, and Photobucket.

The list notably lacked Facebook, and now we perhaps know why. We're awaiting more details on Facebook's and Google's initiatives. But I expect to be disappointed.

To truly open up, the sites would have to give up control over user data. That would mean giving up control over ad income that accompanies it. And that seems unlikely.

Google's offering goes live tonight here. MySpace and Facebook said their new features will be available in some weeks.