Google and Facebook in user data wrangle

Darren Allan

November 10, 2010

Google and Facebook have been having a bit of a data ding-dong, which makes a change for the giant web companies who are normally battling to keep the public sweet when it comes to data delving.

The latest spat involves Google’s change to prevent Facebook from extracting user data from its webmail service, Gmail. The search company states that this is the way it must be, unless Facebook makes it data equally open to Google’s clutches.

Facebook wasn’t too happy about this, and in fact has instigated a workaround, so users can manually download their Gmail contacts, and then upload them to the social network. Google wasn’t happy about that, and said they were “disappointed” in Zuckerberg’s company.

But now a representative of the social networking site, Mike Vernal, has come out swinging on TechCrunch (it’s just like an episode of a soap opera, this one – albeit a rather dull tech-oriented one).

Vernal posted on TechCrunch: “Openness doesn’t mean being open when its convenient for you. On Google’s website, dataliberation.org, Eric Schmidt says, ‘How do you be big without being evil? We don’t trap end users. So if you don’t like Google, if for whatever reason we do a bad job for you, we make it easy for you to move to our competitor.’ How does limiting user choice honour this commitment?”

“We strongly hope that Google turns back on their API and doesn’t come up with yet another excuse to prevent their users from leaving Google products to use ones they like better instead.”

Vernal claims Facebook has been “consistent” with its policies, which is a bit rich. It remains to be seen what response Google will make now, but we’re betting it won’t be particularly conciliatory.






 

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