Facebook blocks Google, for your own good

by Mathew on May 16, 2008 · 7 comments

The “whose data is it anyway” wars seem to have flared up again, judging by what’s going on with Google and Facebook over the data-sharing issue: Facebook has blocked Google’s new Google Connect feature from pulling your “social graph” data out of Facebook. But it’s not because Facebook recently launched a competing feature called Friend Connect, of course — why would you think that? No, it’s because Facebook is concerned about protecting your privacy.

As Mike Arrington notes in another post, this is a pretty flimsy argument at best. Facebook says that it’s worried that the information about you and your profile will somehow go astray during its journey through Google’s connect feature to some third-party site, and that you can’t disconnect that third-party site from within Facebook — which is true. But Google notes that it gives Google Connect users complete control over which sites see their info, so that isn’t a problem.

Robert Scoble has a post up that seems to argue that Facebook is right and Mike is wrong — a debate that continues in the comments on Arrington’s post — but to be honest I lost track of what Scoble’s argument actually was somewhere in there. To me it seems obvious that I should have the ability to move data that is attached to my profile (photos, phone numbers, addresses, emails, etc.) to some other site — in a way that didn’t involve screen-scraping.

If those sites were connected somehow so that the data could be updated in both places at once, so much the better. I don’t particularly care whether it’s Google’s OpenSocial or Google’s Connect, or Facebook’s Friend Connect, or whatever the hell MySpace’s thing is called — or whether it’s through some agreed-upon standard that everyone adheres to, like RSS or HTML. It seems obvious that while everyone is saying they want to be open, they still want to control my data. Umair Haque says it’s more proof that Facebook is fundamentally evil.

  • http://realadvertising.cc Frymaster

    Wha? Open standards? That'll never work ;-)

  • http://blog.searchenginewatch.com Kevin Heisler

    You're right on the money, Matthew. Nothing could be less about privacy than Facebook's decision to protect its membership base.

    It's clear that Facebook wants to keep their members inside their garden walls.

    Facebook is building a moat around its castle to keep the search giant out.

    Dear Google, Facebook's Just Not That Into You
    http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/080516-1

  • http://weeklyreflectionsofchrist.blogspot.com teddyhcraig

    Iron website giants…
    Google vs Facebook…

    Todays secret ingredient: The end user!

    Let the battle begin!

    In the end, we control them, by voting with our presence of lack thereof…
    And all the really smart people in positions of power know that and ask in such a way as to show they know that! The fools don't and are punished!

  • http://www.storyofmylife.com/ante antje wilsch

    As a developer, I can totally understand the desire to keep a walled garden because of privacy and control. As working for a business with users who give up their time, their content, their connections – I can totally see why wanting to keep them in the fold is important and doing your best to bar them from being harassed. As a consumer, I am 100% about not re-entering my data, and going for standarisation, but not sure WHO I want or even trust to “guard” my data. At the end of the day, these sites are nothing without their users.

    What a messy smorgasboard of conflicting feelings.

  • http://www.blaise.ca/ Blaise Alleyne

    I support Facebook on this one, as long as they can work the issue out with Google.

    How can they support user privacy if, in the name of openness, they allow any third party complete access to your data?

    They're trying to strike a balance, to find a way to protect user privacy while making data portable. Give them a break.

  • Artur

    I disagree. I have a lot of data in Google databases. In the gnotebook, gmail, gcheckout. And I believe they should have some competitors to:
    - not have ALL my data ;-)
    - improve their products
    - simply give me (even illusionary) choice between them and competitive solutions

  • Artur

    I disagree. I have a lot of data in Google databases. In the gnotebook, gmail, gcheckout. And I believe they should have some competitors to:
    - not have ALL my data ;-)
    - improve their products
    - simply give me (even illusionary) choice between them and competitive solutions

Older post:

Newer post: