Facebook and Web of Trust (WOT) have today announced that they enter into partnership to protect Facebook's users with the WOT technology. WOT is a Finnish startup that has more than 20 million users globally and these users have rated more than 31 million websites. In essence, it's a crowdsourced way to rate malicious and threatening websites that aim to harm users. The WOT technology will be rolled out as a new feature in Facebook in the US today at 8pm EET and globally in about a week's time. This is a huge win for the Finnish company.
The feature is super simple and understandable for even the newest members and users online. Each time a user clicks on a link that takes them to a malicious website, a screen showing a warning is displayed to the user. The page that the user is being directed to, is checked against WOT's ratings and if it passes a certain threshold - a warning is displayed. An example of this kind of a warning is shown below.
I talked to Vesa Perälä, the CEO of WOT and asked about the details behind the deal. You could hear it from his voice that this is a huge win in all aspects for the company. He believes that very few if any companies have been able to work with Facebook on this level, providing a solution to a core feature in their service.
Perälä also stated that the most important factor of this deal for WOT is the reference and acknowledgement of trust in their technology. If a company like Facebook will adopt WOT's services this deeply in their architecture, others will very likely follow. While Perälä did not disclose any specifics, he mentioned that there are quite a few large partnerships (not perhaps the size of Facebook, but equally important) underway.
What's even more fascinating is that it wasn't WOT that was trying to sell their services to Facebook, but Facebook's security teams got in touch with WOT to talk about the possibility of a partnership. According to Perälä, this started about a year ago with initial talks in the Valley. At this point in time there were other providers also in the talks.
Once an initial agreement was reached regarding the integration of WOT into Facebook, Facebook soon replied that they were too busy to implement it in 2010. Perälä said to himself and the team that this might have been a lost deal, before they got back in touch again around new year's and implemented the solution in January. After this the partnership was passed onto the legal department and this took them a while to reach an agreement before the partnership could be announced.
Facebook will also announce this on their blog and Perälä expects some 5 million people to read in the first few days. This could push them a few hundred thousand new users that hopefully will begin using WOT's services and also contribute to the database.
So not only is this a huge win for WOT regarding the reference value, but also a big boost in new members. WOT looks to license its knowledge of the web to other companies in the near future as well, depending how quickly the potential deals are closed. The business model is based on a license fee that depends on the amount of users the client has and what kind of value this provides them.
And finally, I had to ask Perälä if they had any talks about selling the company to Facebook. He replied promptly with "No, this is way too early to sell ourselves - we're just getting started".