FaceBook Says No to Google Friend Connect

by Sachin Balagopalan on May 16, 2008 · 1 comment

I guess the question is really how “open” is open? Facebook today announced on their developer blog that they are essentially cutting off Google Friend Connect from accessing their user profile API.

In the past, when we found applications passing user data to another party (for instance, to ad networks for the purpose of targeting), we suspended those applications and worked with those developers to ensure they respect user privacy. Now that Google has launched Friend Connect, we’ve had a chance to evaluate the technology. We’ve found that it redistributes user information from Facebook to other developers without users’ knowledge, which doesn’t respect the privacy standards our users have come to expect and is a violation of our Terms of Service. Just as we’ve been forced to do for other applications that redistribute data in a way users might not expect or understand, we’ve had to suspend Friend Connect’s access to Facebook user information until it comes into compliance. We’ve reached out to Google several times about this issue, and hope to work with them to enable users to share their data exactly when and where they choose.

Facebook alleges that Google violates their terms of service by storing user profile data. This allows the possibility of redistribution without the users explicit permission. TechCrunch just posted this…

Here’s an example of how Friend Connect works in practice. A third party site may want to add social elements to their service. They can integrate with Friend connect and allow users to sign in. Those users choose a social network where they keep their profile (Orkut, Hi5, GTalk and, until today, Facebook) and log in via the social network’s API. They then become “members” of the site, using Google’s terminology. If any of their friends from their social network also become members of that site, those friends are shown on the site and you can interact with them.

IMO the average user is probably not going to care too much if indeed their profile is compromised. I mean it’s not like I have my SS# or bank accounts or my medical history on these social networks. So an ad company knows I like trail running and they push a bunch of ads for trail running apparel and shoes whenever I log in - big deal! The issue here is not really privacy but who ultimately wins control over the social graph.

Google needs to add a bunch of check boxes on the setup page so users can check the type of data they want pulled down. Should be a relatively easy fix!


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

bobbleheadedbob 05.16.08 at 3:11 pm

Hmmmmm… ::raises eyebrow::

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