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Whatever Happened to Facebook's Anonymous Login?

Almost a year after its unveiling, Anonymous Login is still in beta.

Facebook

There are many things that come to mind when you hear the word “Facebook” — anonymity likely isn’t one of them.

The social network has long required users to sign up and interact with friends using their authentic identity. That’s why it was so intriguing when Facebook announced an anonymous login feature at the company’s F8 developer conference last April, a tool intended to allow people to test out third-party apps without having to share any personal Facebook information.

Facebook’s pitch to developers was that more people will check out their app if there isn’t pressure to create an account right away. They may then sign up for good if users find the apps useful during the trial period.

The problem: Practically no one is using Anonymous Login.

Nearly one year after its unveiling, Anonymous Login is still in beta. Only a “couple dozen” app developers have access to the tool, and fewer than a dozen are actually using it as part of their app, says Eddie O’Neil, product manager for Facebook’s login products.

This is odd for Facebook. The company has a reputation for rolling stuff out quickly — remember the old “Move fast and break things” motto? Facebook is also used to working with big numbers. “Dozens” of app developers is usually “thousands” of app developers.

So what’s up?

O’Neil says the company hasn’t given up on Anonymous Login. Instead, it’s trying to fine tune the product before rolling it out more broadly.

“We want to avoid broadly launching a product that gets a lot of developers [on board] and then make major changes,” O’Neil told Re/code. “With mobile, the stakes are higher.”

O’Neil says he has been taking feedback from the developers who are using the product, and there are more improvements to be made.

But there could be another issue: Developers may just not care about Anonymous Login.

“We’ve seen very little interest [from developers],” says Patrick Salyer, CEO of Gigya, a customer identity management company that offers Facebook Login as part of its platform. “I talk to customers every day and haven’t heard it come up in almost a year.”

The issue, explains Salyer, is that Anonymous Login doesn’t provide developers with much incentive. Facebook still knows what apps users are checking out — the anonymity element is just one side of the fence — but the developers don’t get much from the deal since they know nothing about who’s visiting their app.

Perhaps more people will take a peek at the app, but there’s no guarantee they’ll sign up.

Facebook isn’t planning to roll out Anonymous Login more widely anytime soon. O’Neil says there won’t be updates to the product at this year’s F8 conference later this month.

It’s still around, however, and we should be on the lookout, he says. “We remain really excited about it.”

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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