Google Slams Facebook On Importing Online Data

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The war between giants continues as Google prohibits Facebook on importing users’ data without reciprocity. It seems Facebook is losing a big opportunity in using Google’s available data after the latter tweaked its Terms or Service requiring all third party services to to offer reciprocity. Facebook doesn’t do this so its a big let down if this situation continues.

Google’s data has been available for years to other third party services as long as they follow the process using API. The problem with Facebook in return is, it does not allow exporting data in return. It looks like Facebook wanted to take and take but don’t want to give.

Facebook TOS still still cloudy regarding data sharing. This action by Google could affect all new and current Facebook members.

Here’s the relevant addition of the Terms of Service for the Contacts API:
5.8. Google supports data portability. By accessing Content through the Contacts Data API or Portable Contacts API for use in your service or application, you are agreeing to enable your users to export their contacts data to other services or applications of their choice in a way that’s substantially as fast and easy as exporting such data from Google Contacts, subject to applicable laws.

A Google spokesperson gave this statement:

Google is committed to making it easy for users to get their data into and out of Google products. That is why we have a data liberation engineering team dedicated to building import and export tools for users. We are not alone. Many other sites allow users to import and export their information, including contacts, quickly and easily. But sites that do not, such as Facebook, leave users in a data dead end.

So we have decided to change our approach slightly to reflect the fact that users often aren’t aware that once they have imported their contacts into sites like Facebook they are effectively trapped. Google users will still be free to export their contacts from our products to their computers in an open, machine-readable format–and once they have done that they can then import those contacts into any service they choose. However, we will no longer allow websites to automate the import of users’ Google Contacts (via our API) unless they allow similar export to other sites.

It’s important that when we automate the transfer of contacts to another service, users have some certainty that the new service meets a baseline standard of data portability. We hope that reciprocity will be an important step towards creating a world of true data liberation–and that this move will encourage other websites to allow users to automate the export of their contacts as well.

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