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Open-Xchange launches Facebook contact exporter

A new Social OX feature helps people collect their contacts' e-mail addresses for easy import into Google+, the latest salvo in a war over data ownership.

Open-Xchange logo

Open-Xchange, a company making open-source software for e-mail and other collaboration tasks, released a tool today to help people migrate extract contact information their Facebook friends have shared.

"The cloud needs to be open--just as source code and data protocols needed to be open to create the Internet. With more and more data moving into and being created inside the cloud, this data needs to be owned by the creators, not the services," Open-Xchange Chief Executive Rafael Laguna said in a blog post explaining Open-Xchange's tool.

His perspective differs from Facebook's: the company has blocked a Chrome extension that would extract not just e-mail addresses, but birthdays, phone numbers, and more. It was designed to import that information directly into Gmail, from which it could easily be used to help reconstitute people's Facebook connections on the new Google+ social network.

Facebook doesn't want people exporting friends' contact information--though it's happy to import the same data from Google. Google argues for a more open policy, letting you export address-book information from Google+, but it's been on the other side of the fence too: it blocked export of e-mail addresses from an earlier social network attempt, Orkut.

The Open-Xchange's tool uses a demo account to use a feature called Social OX on the company's server software that matches contact information with e-mail you've sent already. It's available online right now, but the company is building it into the next version of the software that people can download and run themselves, too.

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• Google+: It's friending, with benefits (images)
• Google resets social agenda with Google+
• How to look inside Google+ without an invite

"We use the APIs from the social and business networks to create address books for each of them. Then we enhance this data with the contacts we can harvest from your e-mail accounts made available to your Open-Xchange user," Laguna said. "This data from all your networks and address books and all contacts from your emails is then merged into your 'magic' address book...Import to your liking, in Apple iCal, Gmail/G+, Facebook, Outlook, whatever you like."

You also can try a method that, perversely, is sanctioned by Facebook: a Yahoo import tool.

You won't get phone numbers, birthdays, and other useful information, but the main thing you need for Google+ and Gmail is e-mail addresses.

To do that, open a fresh account at Yahoo. As soon as it's created, you'll get an option to import contacts from elsewhere, including Facebook. Choose that option, authorize the tool, and it'll import the contacts.

You'll then have to transfer them to Google by exporting a CSV (comma-separated values) spreadsheet. Gmail lets you import a CSV by clicking Contacts, then the More actions button, then the Import menu item. Of course you can use the CSV file elsewhere, too.