Business Software

Facebook to Google: Friend Disconnect

The industry momentum for data portability brotherhood hit a bump on Thursday when Facebook blocked Google's Friend Connect service from accessing Facebook members' data.

Friend Connect violates Facebook's terms of service because it "redistributes user information from Facebook to other developers without users' knowledge," Facebook official Charlie Cheever wrote on the company's blog for developers.

"Just as we've been forced to do for other applications that redistribute data in a way users might not expect or understand, we've had to suspend Friend Connect's access to Facebook user information until it comes into compliance," Cheever wrote.

Facebook has already contacted Google "several times" about the issue and is looking forward to finding a resolution, according to Cheever.

Google's Questions

For its part, Google doesn't fully understand what it needs to do in order to comply with Facebook's terms of service, said Google Engineering Director David Glazer in a phone interview.

"We think users should be in control of their data. When we built Friend Connect, we designed it very carefully to put users in control of their information at every step of the way. We're disappointed that Facebook chose to disable their users' ability to use Friend Connect with their Facebook friends," Glazer said.

Google shares Facebook's beliefs that users need to be in control of their data and that their privacy needs to be respected. "I agree strongly with the values they assert, and I believe the APIs they have released do a good job of honoring those values. I don't understand at this point why they've chosen to do something that doesn't align with those values," Glazer said.

Google held talks with Facebook before and after the announcement of Friend Connect on Monday around the issue in question, and conversations are ongoing, Glazer said.

Although Friend Connect is in a limited preview, there are four Web sites -- two built as demos and two real ones -- that had been accepting requests from users to grab their Facebook profile data, Glazer said. That functionality is now interrupted, he said.

Facebook didn't respond to a request for comment beyond Cheever's blog posting.

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