A huge portion of web sites and apps use social sign-in these days, enabling users to authenticate with the application using social media accounts they’ve already created like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Social log in provides a huge amount of value for both the users and applications developers, but these perks don’t come without some major drawbacks.
Pros to Social Login
The big question is, as a developer, should you implement Facebook Login and other social sign-in features within your site or applications? The pros are fairly well known:
- Less usernames and passwords to remember for users
- A quicker sign-up and log-in process, sometimes as easy as 1-click
- Social metadata on your users directly from the networks you integrate with
- Outsourced password recovery and login support
Cons to Social Login
So what about the drawbacks? It seems like social-sign-in is a no-brainer; if the biggest sites online use it, why wouldn’t you? The biggest negative to social sign-in is when the social networks you rely on experience downtime or lock a user out of their account. If either of these things happen, you’re users likely won’t be able to login; unless of course you’ve planned for this and built a process the allows a workaround.
Also, there comes the question of data acquisition. If you’re not collecting the email address of your users directly from them, the social networks may not provide this information to you.
The Solution: A Hybrid Approach
The solution is a hybrid approach. Implement social sign-in via the major networks, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and possibly second tier networks like LinkedIn and Yahoo, but make sure you also collect the email addresses of your users as well, so that if there is a problem with the network, you still have a direct line of communication with your users, and they’ll still have the ability to login to your app or service using their email and password, if needed.
Recently Harvard Business Review released a comprehensive article covering even more details about this problem and it’s solutions. Reference this article for more info on this topic!