Larry Page: Facebook holding users hostage

Google's CEO tells Charlie Rose it's "unfortunate" that Facebook has been pretty closed with the data at its disposal: "I think we would certainly -- you know, we're in the business of searching data."

Google CEO Larry Page has blasted Facebook for not allowing Google to search its data. The battle goes back several years, and escalated when Google launched its social network, Google+, in June 2011. And in interview Monday with Charlie Rose, Page repeated his concerns about Facebook.

Rose, who is also co-host of "CBS This Morning," discussed his Page interview with correspondent Rebecca Jarvis in the video above. (Disclosure: CNET is a unit of CBS Interactive.)

"I think it's been unfortunate that Facebook has been pretty closed with their data ... and I think we would certainly -- you know, we're in the business of searching data. We don't generally turn it down when it's offered to us," Page told Rose.

"I think the idea that, you know, you'd hold your users hostage, kind of, and the absence of reasons for it that don't make sense. ... You know, they'd hold their users' data," he added.

Page continued: "From a user's perspective you say, 'Oh, it's great. I'm -- you know, I'm joining Facebook. I want my contacts.' In Google, we said, 'Fine, you know. You can get them from Google.' And the issue we had is that then Facebook said, 'No, Google, you can't do the reverse.' And so we just said, 'Well, users don't understand what they're doing. They're putting data in, and they don't understand they can't take it out.' So we said, 'We'll only participate with people who have reciprocity.' And we're still waiting."

He said that Facebook claims that it won't allow Google to search its data due to privacy issues. He pointed out that Facebook allows Yahoo to include results from Facebook. "They just don't it with us," he said.

Last week Amit Singhal, head of Google search engine technology, said, "The issue is what kind of Web we are building where special deals are required if someone wants to access information."

John Battelle, author of Searchblog, offers some insight into the Google vs. Facebook conflict over data sharing and discussion the two companies had in 2009:

It's one thing to ask that Google not use Facebook's own social graph and private data to build new social services - after all, the social graph is Facebook's crown jewels. But it's quite another thing to ask Google to ignore other public information completely.

From Google's point of view, Facebook was crippling future products and services that Google might create, which was tantamount to an insurance policy of sorts that Google wouldn't become a strong competitor, at least not one that leverages public information from Facebook. Google balked. If Facebook's demand could have been interpreted as also applying to Google's search results, well, that's a stone cold deal killer.

I certainly understand why Facebook might ask for what they did, it's not crazy. Google might well have responded by narrowing the deal, saying "Fine, you don't build a search engine, and we won't build a social network. But we should have the right to create other kinds of social services." As far as I know, Google didn't chose to say that. (Microsoft apparently did). And I think I know why: The two companies realized they were dancing on the head of a pin. Search = social, social = search. They couldn't figure out a way to tease the two apart. Microsoft has cast its lot with Facebook, Google, not so much.
 

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