Google slams Facebook over contact data inflexibility

A “Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots” game. The robot boxer in the blue corner represents Facebook, while the red robot represents Google.

The Google vs. Facebook battle rages on. (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/Media Collective)

The Google vs. Facebook online data war rages on, reports the Guardian. The latest exchange of blows centers on Google’s view that Facebook leaves users in a “data dead end” that is inconsistent with a “world of true data liberation.” In short, Google has criticized Facebook because users of the social network cannot export their contact data to other applications in an efficient manner. To make Facebook understand the gravity of this issue, Google has banned Facebook from using its data feed for Gmail contacts.

Google punches Facebook, Facebook leapfrogs Google

Google’s hard-line data stance against Facebook temporarily prevented Facebook users from being able to import or invite contacts from Google services via the automated path. Not one to take things lying down, Facebook responded with a hack that effectively enabled its users to reach over the Google roadblock. New Facebook users can download and then upload a file containing their Google contacts without ever having to leave Facebook.

Google’s Data Liberation Front, a team of company engineers committed to making it easy for Google users to move their information in and out of Google products, is reportedly “disappointed” in Facebook’s move, writes the Guardian. From a Google corporate statement:

“We’re disappointed that Facebook didn’t invest their time in making it possible for their users to get their contacts out of Facebook. As passionate believers that people should be able to control the data they create, we will continue to allow our users to export their Google contacts.”

Facebook has yet to comment on the issue.

Will this escalate the Great Online Data War?

Greek dramatist Aeschylus (525 BC – 456 BC) once wrote that “In war, truth is the first casualty.” The most likely scenario is that the Great Online Data War – Google vs. Facebook – does not have one clear party in the right or in the wrong. The truth of the matter is that Google and Facebook will make decisions that benefit themselves first. This recent skirmish between the online titans makes it seem as though Facebook simply doesn’t want to provide an escape route for its users, but Google could simply be looking for an opening in Facebook through which it can extend a new battering ram in the rumored Google Me service.



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