The trend of implementation of Social Login started as a nice option for many websites and Apps. However, it seems it has become the standard for login for many new startup companies. I have been monitoring many startups in the web area, and I see an increasing use of Facebook and Twitter as the only options to create an account. The DNA of Facebook and Twitter is part of the fabric of almost every new startup, but that DNA could carry with it some few bad chromosomes.
As a founder of a social startup website, I do understand the benefits for new members of using Facebook and Twitter as a Social Login to create an account with the use of authentication and authorization. However, I like to share my experience of using such technology and the possible dark side of it.
When I implemented the use of Social Login in my social network believing in its benefit, I quickly realized the shortfall. The advantage is clear. It is simplifying the creation of profile data or what is called PII (Personally Identifiable Information). This benefit has a draw back. The biggest short fall was in the data. The lack of completing the data in the profile registration was a major issue. As a social network founder of 1000+ users, I faced tremendous challenge to have the user complete their profile to create meaningful data though data mining. Regardless of the point/reward system and numerous emails send to nudge the user to complete their profile, the majority ignored it. I am sure many studies out there give explanations with statistics and percentages; I can give you my pure intuitive conclusion. It is simple due to combination of personal nature of carelessness and laziness. They are not inclined to go back and update their profile information, because they have already created an account.
The second draw back, as a user of many social networks, I have come to dislike using my Facebook and twitter accounts. After using my accounts as social logins, my Facebook and twitter pages have been full of companies advertising materials. Some of the websites will not allow me to disable the social sharing of content. If I deselect that option during the Facebook registration, then I will not be able to use Facebook as login. This has had a major side effect because many of my friends filtered my newsfeed due to the adverting content on my account being pushed by these companies.
The third draw back of the use of Social Login reminds of me the banking system. As many of us know, the banking system has been globally connected in a very complicated way. A collapse of one bank could result in extreme impact in many banks, as was the case of collapse of Lehman Brothers. It was an unreliable and unexpected, too big to fall event.
This analogy has been echoing in my head for some time. What would happen to many startups or other companies if a Facebook or Twitter Black Swan event occurred? Imagine if a virus hit any of the social networks, what would be the result of operation cost to your startup? I believe the need provide the traditional way of creating user account via the website itself should be the main choice of user created accounts (Recommended), with the option to use social logins as secondary option.
Don’t believe me yet? I read this article yesterday Tensions Rise Between Facebook, Developers
Love to hear from you 🙂
Check out Apigee.. They have created an API that allows developers to offer mobile ID as login/authentication. Not sure if it curtails some of the drawbacks you mentioned though..
Great points… So would you recommend a OpenID system instead? Something that won’t end? haha