Yesterday's update of iTunes added Ping, a music-focused social network. When I tried it out early in the evening, it had Facebook Connect enabled, and both imported friends from Facebook, and notified me when new ones joined. Shortly afterwards, Mark Zuckerberg joined, and shortly after that the Facebook connection was missing.
This morning, neither company is talking on the record, though Kara Swisher reports that Steve Jobs complained about 'onerous terms' from Facebook.
This naturally reminds me of the problems we had with Google Friend Connect, where Facebook's accusation of a ToS violation was never backed up by an explanation of what would not violate the terms, leading to the "Data Roach Motel" accusations at Supernova. The underlying issue is whether you should give another company veto power over your application. Last time I wrote on this, it was Apple's veto I was warning about, though at the same time Apple was trying to avoid giving Adobe veto power over their platform again.
The thing is, we have been round this cycle before, and the answer is known too - the way to interoperate with another company without having to have a business agreement with them is to use open standards, not proprietary APIs.
Apple knows this - they have helped lead development of HTML5 and WebKit, along with many other standards in the past, including podcasting and MPEG4. Facebook knows this too, and they have been strong supporters of OAuth and Activity Streams, and even of Portable Contacts, when it's them doing the importing.
Clearly it good for us as users to be able to delegate our contact lists to an existing source - this weeks launch of conference sharing site Lanyrd shows that. It's also in our interests to be able to propagate the actions of playing, liking and purchasing music, videos and anything else between sites of our choosing, so that we can share with our friends, and so we can get more useful recommendations for the future (at minimum, not suggesting things we already have).
This was the core of the discussion at the VRM Workshop last week in Boston - that we should control over who sees what about us, and I think that with these common standards we can solve both problems - the individuals get to save having to re-enter their information everywhere, and control what flows to where, and the companies get the ability to interoperate without bizdev and single source lock-in. Activity Streams (and the associated standards they build on) are our best hope for this.