Facebook to Open Source Facebook Platform

TechCrunch has been covering the breaking news: Facebook is planning to release the infrastructure between the Facebook Platform as free software!

Facebook, I knew you had it in you. Many older folks in the tech crowd view Facebook with much suspicion, if not considering it outright evil or Microsoft-like in terms of their “closed” mentality.

I am much more sympathetic. They’ve open sourced parts of their infrastructure in the past, and contributed back to free software projects they’ve used and built up. The data portability issues they’ve been facing recently are, I think, a struggle to balance privacy with openness. One of the reasons they’ve been so successful is because of the advanced privacy controls they’ve integrated into the system. Allowing data to flow outside of the network too easily would make those privacy controls irrelevant. It’s not a simple thing to do, and I am optimistic that they’ll figure it out through initiatives like Facebook Connect. (Hopefully sooner, rather than later.) Not that they haven’t made mistakes in the past, but I believe they are well-intentioned.

At any rate, this is great news and I eagerly await the official announcement.

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