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Hulu has once again rolled out its Facebook Connect capability, enabling users to easily share what they’re viewing on the online video site with their friends on Facebook. The capability was restored after problems with the initial launch ended up exposing user data when some users who tried to merge their Facebook and Hulu accounts ended up being logged in as other users.
The incident caused Hulu to pull back on the launch of Facebook Connect for a few days and to issue an apologetic blog post explaining the situation and assuring users that no crucial user account info, such as passwords, credit card numbers or the like, were leaked. But now that that’s all over, will users be willing to give Hulu’s Facebook Connect integration a second chance?
Beyond any initial concerns about their Hulu account data being shared, there’s also the issue of how visible Hulu viewers will want their private viewing data to be. Once users have merged their accounts and opted in to the sharing mechanism, the service broadcasts that information out on the home page users log in to. If you had a marathon Black Books viewing session last week, like my good friend Liz Miller did, that information would be available to all your friends on Hulu.
Of course, all these settings can be changed, through the Privacy & Settings page. There users can specify which viewing or interaction data gets shared with whom, and what gets passed along to Facebook.
What Hulu wants is for users to opt in to sharing with all their Facebook and Hulu friends. By doing so, the online video site hopes to ride the network effect from viewers sharing and linking out to Facebook, and their friends seeing what they’ve watched through the social networking site. Facebook is becoming not just a video destination site itself, but a place for consumers to get recommendations based on what their friends are watching. With that in mind, Hulu has little to lose from letting users share their viewing data more easily, but a lot to gain.
For those that are worried about what it all means, or what information will be shared where, Hulu has created a video promoting the Facebook Connect integration: