You may have read earlier this week that Yahoo and Facebook Connect have just teamed up to make more Yahoo content shareable. If it wasn't obvious already, this is the absolute final ceding of Internet rule to social networks over their precursors.
Or wait. Was it the MSN redesign last month which lets visitors access their social nets from the new home page making it the last of the old-school portals to do so? Or was it the deal announced on the same day as the FB Connect/Yahoo hook-up that Google will allow Twitter users to to sign into its Friend Connect service with their Twitter accounts?
It barely matters. What does matter is that the entire Internet is rapidly growing a social outer layer as it were, an extra coating of social on top of everything. And though all of the older players in the Internet popularity game, including Google, have tried to build their own critical mass in the social sphere -- Orkut or Aol's Bebo anyone? -- they have realized there's no point. With Facebook currently at 350 million users and Twitter as the go-to spot for the social media intelligentsia, the winners in social media, at least for the foreseeable future, have been determined.
Not only is the outer layer growing; it's getting thicker. If the Yahoo-Facebook deal sounds old to you, it's true that the social net has been available from the Yahoo home page, but now it will also be available on Yahoo Mail, Sports, Finance, News and Flickr. If you want to know how big a shift in strategy that is for Yahoo, as recently as last March, the site was still aggressively trying to compete with Facebook via a Yahoo Updates feature that was rolled out to hundreds of thousands of sites. I don't know what the future of Yahoo Updates is, but it stands to reason that for most people, Facebook Connect is the default. There's little point, the way things look right now, for older online properties to roll out their own social platforms.
As a close watcher of the social media scene, I'm trying to figure out, as always, what it all means. Does it mean more "stickiness" (now, there's an old-school word), for older sites that offer Facebook and Twitter functionality? Will the added layer of social networking data on sites that have welcomed in Facebook Connect change the nature of ad targeting, and further, online ad pricing? Hell if I know.
Previous coverage of Facebook Connect at BNET Media: