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Google to Block Facebook's Access to Gmail Contacts

Danny Goodwin
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Facebook is losing access to Gmail data due to a change in Google's term of services, but really because Facebook won't share its social graph data with Google, TechCrunch reports.

With the rivalry between Google and Facebook heating up on several fronts (advertising, location-based services, its search deal with Bing, etc.), Google has made no secret that it wants access to all the valuable information Facebook has on its more than 500 million users.

In September at Google Zeitgeist, Google CEO Eric Schmidt spoke about Google's desire to get its hands on Facebook's social graph:

"The best thing that would happen is for Facebook to open up its data," Schmidt said. "Failing that, there are other ways to get that information."

Looks like Google just made their move.

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As it has worked for a while now, Facebook prompts users for a Gmail address and password to import contacts and find friends to connect with on Facebook. Gmail is still an option for importing contacts as of this writing, but could go away shortly.

According to Google:

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.

No response from Facebook yet.


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