Friday, December 17, 2010

Facebook Registration Tool

The new Facebook registration service has created quite the "buzz". I have to commend Facebook on doing a great job of making it really simple for sites to manage registrations (just as they did with identity federation). I like the user experience; both for the user and for the integrating site.

However, for relying parties supporting 3rd party identity providers I do have some concerns regarding leveraging the Facebook registration UI for all users.
  1. What happens if the user chooses to clear the form and enters new data? If the site requests password data as part of registration for these users using the "
    <code>{"name":"password",   "view":"not_prefilled"}</code>
    " option, when the user comes back to the site, where do they enter their password? How does the site instruct the user that when they come back to the site, they should use the site specific login form, not the Facebook login form?
  2. For users who choose not to register for Facebook, but do want to access the site, where are their login credentials stored? If the site doesn't request password as part of the registration process, is Facebook asking for authentication credentials and storing them (along with which sites the user has logged into)? From working through the documentation, I believe Facebook handles all authentication (even if not storing the registration data) and provides sites with a UID (unique identifier). Effectively, Facebook is a federated identity provider for all users.
  3. Supporting other federated identity providers becomes confusing. The relying party will have to support two registration forms; one for Facebook users and one for other identity providers. For example, I don't see a way for the relying party to use the Facebook registration UI for a user logging in with their Twitter credentials.
In the end, for sites that only support Facebook as their external identity provider, this is a great tool. For sites that support identity providers other than Facebook, the benefit is only recognized for Facebook account holders.

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