Facebook Connect Spotted In The Wild. Will Beacon Finally Die?

Your Facebook ID is about to be accepted at a whole lot more sites than just Facebook. Developers have been hacking away with Facebook Connect since last May, and now partner sites are getting ready to launch. CBS’s celebrity gossip site TheInsider is the first to do so. Anyone can log in using their Facebook ID, and then can choose to have any comments, article votes, or poll responses show up in their Facebook feed.

CBS is testing Facebook Connect on TheInsider, and if the response is favorable plans on rolling it out across other CBS.com and Cnet properties. Expect more sites not owned by CBS to launch next week.

More importantly, Facebook Connect could end up replacing Facebook’s Beacon service on CBS and elsewhere. Beacon, to remind everyone, is the advertising-driven platform that was riddled with privacy problems and caused some partners to wish they had never signed up (but never really went away). Beacon identifies whenever a Facebook member visits a partner site and allow certain actions such as adding a rating or review, or saving a recipe, to appear in that member’s feed on Facebook.

Despite patching up some Beacon’s privacy holes, it never really took off. Facebook Connect offers a much better privacy model. It is very clear that you are signing up for it, and there is the convenience factor of being able to use your existing Facebook username and password. And whatever your privacy settings are on Facebook get automatically transferred to every Facebook Connect site where you are also logged in. And for developers, there are just a lot more things they can do with Facebook Connect than make actions appear in members’ feeds. Groups, events, photos, and user status messages can all be grabbed from Facebook and used as features on other sites. As Facebook users make changes on Facebook (or on the partner sites), the changes are updated everywhere.

And Beacon? According to a Facebook spokesperson:

We are not accepting any new developers into the Facebook Beacon program, though the approximately 30 existing sites may continue to use the feature as it suits them best.

Beacon may not be dead quite yet. But it will be soon.