Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is known for having dubious ideas about privacy. The billionaire founder is famously quoted in David Kirkpatrick's book The Facebook Effect as saying, "having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity" and "the days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly." During today's F8 conference however it seemed that Zuckerberg and Facebook had come around to the idea of privacy, at least in small doses.
After a three year absence Facebooks F8 conference has returned, bringing with it an exciting new development for the social media giant; anonymous login. Almost every modern app now requires you to login to an account before working. Most of these apps allow you to use your Facebook login instead of creating a new account each time you want to use a new app. Unfortunately using your Facebook login gives that app's developer access to an incredible amount of your personal information.
Utilizing the new anonymous login feature users will be able to login to apps using their Facebook accounts without having to share their personal information with the developers. Once a user is comfortable with an app, they can change their settings to login with their actual Facebook account. Theoretically, more privacy should ultimately lead to users feeling more comfortable trying out new apps. Considering how many apps including sharing options back to Facebook, this news should help the company.
This also removes the potentially embarrassing situations that can arise when someone uses your Spotify account to stream a Britney Spears album or three, only to have that information pop up on your Facebook feed.
There's another angle to consider. Facebook is a social media giant, but they're also a giant data mining operation. They sell information about users to a number of sources for lots and lots of money. By removing an access point for app developers to gain information about the demographics of the users using Facebook to login to their app, Facebook may be opening up a new revenue stream. How valuable would it be to King, the makers of Candy Crush, to know who is playing their game and how they're sharing it? If a majority of new users start logging anonymously, the company is still going to want that information, and only Facebook will be able to share it.
This is purely speculation, of course. As a user who reviews apps for a living, being able to login anonymously with my Facebook account will be a privacy godsend. We look forward to seeing how the feature is implemented when it launches in the future.