Facebook, Google spar over data policies

Frazier-Ali it ain't, but two of Silicon Valley's most prominent Internet companies are fighting through the media over data portability.

Google's spat with Facebook over data portability and contacts isn't over.

A few days after Google changed the terms of service for sites using Gmail contacts data to require two-way data exporting if they want to allow their users to automatically import Gmail contacts, Facebook figured out a way around the restriction. TechCrunch noticed that Facebook installed a button on its "find your friends" page that lets Gmail users automatically download their contacts as a CSV (comma-separated value) file and then import that file into Facebook.

In response, Google e-mailed tech reporters an unsolicited statement on Facebook's move. "We're disappointed that Facebook didn't invest their time in making it possible for their users to get their contacts out of Facebook. As passionate believers that people should be able to control the data they create, we will continue to allow our users to export their Google contacts."

All this posturing is about whether or not Facebook should allow users to export all their data from the social network. Facebook currently lets you export things like photos, but doesn't let you export the list of friends--and the corresponding contact information--that make up your social network. Google has made data portability a key portion of its manifesto, while Facebook isn't sure that this is proper in social media, since a Facebook user hasn't necessarily given their friends permission to take that data outside of the service.

What's really at stake is that both companies want access to the data found in Facebook. Google wants Facebook to be more open so it can index its pages and develop its own repository of socially tuned data, something that has long eluded the search giant. Facebook wants to keep that data behind closed doors as to keep Facebook users active on the site, forcing advertisers to come to Facebook in order to reach those people with highly targeted ads.

But yeah, data portability and privacy and stuff.

About the author

    Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.

     

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