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Programming Social Applications by Jonathan LeBlanc

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Personalizing Applications with Profile Data

As social networking sites become more deeply ingrained in our daily lives, it is increasingly obvious that many people don’t have any qualms about publishing all kinds of information—personal details, photos, their physical location, and more—to their profiles. While this is a mounting concern from a privacy and “good sense” perspective, for an application developer it’s a wealth of knowledge that you can use to personalize applications. This personalization can include anything from demographically targeted ads to gender-specific marketing. With all of this information readily available, the benefit here is quite clear.

Let’s look at this from another angle. One thing that many users no longer tolerate is having to build multiple profiles for every application or social network they use. If someone is using an application on a popular social network like Facebook or MySpace, why should he have to input the exact same information in that application that he has already painstakingly entered into his profile? The simple fact is he doesn’t have to—and that’s why it’s vital to capture and use his profile information to precustomize his experience in your application.

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