Google vs. Facebook: Adult Supervision Desperately Needed

You'd think the drinking water in Silicon Valley has been replaced with baby formula, given how childish some of the biggest companies in tech have acted this year. First on the Romper Room roll call is Steve Jobs, who has thrown tantrums over Adobe Flash, Android, lost prototypes, the tendency of his uberphone to lose its signal when held the wrong way, and various other prickles that have lodged in his big boy pants.

Now Google and Facebook are squabbling like four-year-olds over who can access whose data and what they can do with it.

[ Get the spin on key tech news that you'll find nowhere else at InfoWorld's Tech Watch blog. | For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter. ]

Google wants Facebook to release its headlock on its members' data -- specifically, phone numbers and email addresses. Being able to export contacts from Facebook would make it easier for people to, say, move all their stuff to a newer/spiffier social network. Facebook has so far steadily refused to let Google or anyone else play with its email toys, and will hold its breath until either Google stops asking or it turns blue, whatever comes first.

In retaliation, last week Google banned Facebook from accessing its Gmail Contacts API, making it harder to import Gmail contacts directly into your Facebook account. Take that, Lamebook.

This is not exactly consistent with the high-minded principles espoused on Google's own Data Liberation Front website, which states (in big red letters):

Users should be able to control the data they store in any of Google's products. Our team's goal is to make it easier to move data in and out.

Except, apparently, for data in and out of Facebook. Turns out Orwell was right: Some data pigs really are more equal than others.

(Also: Data Liberation Front? Seriously? I see a bunch of geeky engineers sitting in a tree house wearing Che Guevara T-shirts and calling each other "comrade.")

Facebook responded by exploiting a Google feature that allows Gmail users to download their own contact data to their hard drives, then upload it into Facebook. Neener neener, G-Luzers.

Subscribe to the Daily Downloads Newsletter

Comments