Facebook open up Facebook chat – a fightback against Buzz?

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Facebook have just opened their popular chat service up to external developers. This means that from today you will be able to instant message your Facebook friends from outside Facebook, using a client service instead of the main site.

It will be like what Tweetdeck does with Twitter or like the old MSN. Facebook says:
“To make Facebook Chat available everywhere, we are using the technology Jabber (XMPP), an open messaging protocol supported by most instant messaging software, including iChat, Pidgin, Adium, Miranda and more.”

By building chat into the Facebook Connect developers will be able to incorporate Facebook chat on other websites. If you want to limit the amount of people that are available in this new more pervasive chat you can use the Facebook friend lists function to adjust who you see and who you don’t.

Apparently 2 billion messages are sent every day on Facebook chat, making it one of the most popular instant messaging services in the world. That’s obviously a strength Facebook will want to build on…

While this must have been on the cards for a while, it’s hard not to see the move as a fightback against the launch of Google’s social network Buzz, coming so shortly after its launch. Opening up chat will spread Facebook’s reach beyond its website and make it more of an ever-present web service.. something you’ll leave on in the background. Since Buzz plugs itself into a popular email service – gmail – Facebook could do with spreading its influence beyond facebook.com.

ReadWriteWeb hoped that facebook running one of its key services on an open technical standard would eventually lead to interoperable chat – where you could talk to any chat service from any chat service – reducing the amount of accounts and log-ins you need to have. That looks unlikely, though apparently Facebook are investigating “interoperability”.

Information on how to set up Facebook chat on your desktop: here]

Anna Leach