I just found out via an article by Dan Farber that Yahoo! has rolled out a new "universal profile" and decided to give it a quick look. As I was creating my profile at http://profiles.yahoo.com/kpako I saw an interesting option that I thought was worth commenting on which is captured in the screenshot below
The circled text says
Allow my connections to share my information labeled “My Connections” with third-party applications they install and developers who made the applications. Learn More
The reason for this feature harkens back to the Robert Scoble vs. Facebook saga where Robert Scoble was temporarily banned from Facebook for extracting personal information about his Facebook friends from Facebook into Plaxo. As I outlined in my post on the topic, Breaking the Social Contract: My Data is not Your Data, the problem was that Scoble's friends on Facebook may have been OK with sharing their personal information with him on Facebook but not with him sharing that information with other services.
With this feature, Yahoo! has allowed users to opt-in to allowing an application used by a member of their social network to access their personal information. This is a very user-centric approach and avoids the draconian practice of services like Facebook that get around this issue by not providing any personally idenitifable user information via their APIs. Instead a user can specify which pieces of their personal information they don't mind being accessed by 3rd party applications being used by their friends using the option above. Nicely done.
The only problem I can see is that this is a pretty nuanced option which users may not understand clearly and may overlook since it is just another checkbox in the profile creation flow. Then again, it is hard to imagine how to introduce users to this concept after they have created their profile.
Kudos to the Yahoo! folks on getting this feature and the rest of their universal profile out there.