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Friday, February 01, 2008

Google released Social Graph API

image With so many websites to join, users must decide where to invest significant time in adding their same connections over and over. For developers, this means it is difficult to build successful web applications that hinge upon a critical mass of users for content and interaction.

With the Social Graph API, developers can now utilize public connections their users have already created in other web services. It makes information about public connections between people easily available and useful.


Social Graph API makes information about the public connections between people on the Web easily available and useful. You can make it easy for users to bring their existing social connections into a new website and as a result, users will spend less time rebuilding their social networks and more time giving your app the love it deserves.

Here's how it works

It crawls the Web to find publicly declared relationships between people's accounts, just like Google crawls the Web for links between pages. But instead of returning links to HTML documents, the API returns JSON data structures representing the social relationships that discovered from all the XHTML Friends Network (XFN), Friend of a Friend (FOAF). When a user signs up for your app, you can use the API to remind them who they've said they're friends with on other sites and ask them if they want to be friends on your new site.

The API cannot access non-public information, such as private profile pages or websites accessible to a limited group of friends.

The Social Graph API looks for two types of publicly declared connections:

  1. It looks for all public URLs that belong to you and are interconnected. This could be your blog (a1), your LiveJournal page (a2), and your Twitter account (a3).
  2. It looks for publicly declared connections between people. For example, a1 may link to b's blog while a1 and c link to each other.


This index of connections enables developers to build many applications including the ability to help users connect to their public friends more easily. For example, in the image below, Brad just joined Twitter but has no friends on it. Using the Social Graph API, Twitter could provide Brad a way to find out that his friend Jane is also on Twitter. Here's how: Brad has linked to his homepage (b3) from his Twitter profile (b1) and also from his homepage (b3) to his LiveJournal blog, Bradfitz (b2). On LiveJournal, Brad is friends with Jane274 (j2), but Brad doesn't know that Jane274 (j2) also has a Twitter profile (j1). Since the Social Graph API has indexed that Brad and Jane already have declared a public friendship on LiveJournal, it can let Brad know that he might want to add Jane (j1) on Twitter as well.


The video below can walk you through the API in detail.

Example Applications

The following demo applications show the Social Graph API in action:

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