Is this where the battle lines between Facebook and Google + are being drawn at? Is this the kind of response we can expect every time a developer creates a utility that exports existing Facebook contacts to the Google + environment? For some background, an up-and-coming web developer created a Google Chrome extension that allowed users to export contact information from Facebook to Google’s “why won’t you let us in” social platform.
The extension, called, oddly enough, the Facebook Friend Exporter, did exactly what the title said it did. That is, until Facebook started blocking the extension from accessing its data. The developer in question, Mohamed Mansour, posted an explanation of why his creation stopped working:
Facebook is trying so hard to not allow you to export your friends. They started to remove emails of your friends from your profile by today July 5th 2011. It will no longer work for many people.
New version with a different design is currently deploying. You might have to do exports daily. It uses a different approach, and I will maintain this version. Just bear with me.
While Mansour should be commended for his attempt at a workaround, should Facebook be receiving some guff for their strong-armed tactics in relation to Google +? Furthermore, is Facebook setting themselves up for some anti-trust issues by blocking an extension that populates another social media platform? Does that remove the natural competitive balance businesses are bound by? Or is Facebook finally protecting its users by enforcing some privacy standards?
According to ZDNet, there are additional ways to import the desired data — the methods look a little bit like work — as Mansour pointed out the extension’s page, the desired data belongs to the users, not Facebook:
Get *your* data contact out of Facebook, whether they want you to or not. You gave them your friends and allowed them to store that data, and you have right to take it back out! Facebook doesn’t own my friends.
Clearly, Facebook and Mansour disagree on what belongs to the user and what belongs to Facebook. While your friends don’t “belong” to Facebook, apparently, the data they’ve entered does, at least according to those who blocked the Facebook Friend Exporter extension. With that in mind, it’s hard not to wonder how Mark Zuckerberg, who is the current king of Google +, at least in relation to the amount of friends in his various circles, populated his Google + account, and if he imported existing Facebook contacts into his Google + profile.
Reaction to the extension block is about what one would expect: does Facebook’s actions officially kick-off the “Google + versus Facebook” war?
Apparently, the answer to James’ question is “not you. At least not in regards to social media information.”
The last featured tweet offers a perspective not often seen in the United States, and it gives good insight into how other parts of the world view these back and forth actions between to of the more successful Internet properties. Did Facebook overreact or are they merely protecting users’ privacy? Is Facebook setting itself up for some anti-trust issues with actions like blocking the Chrome extension? Let us know what you think in the comments.