Skip to Content

Google and Facebook argue over profile data

10 June, 2008
By Allison Orr

Last week Google launched a preview release of Friend Connect, which allows site owners to easily add social features to their websites.  According to Google’s press release, a website can get social features up and running immediately without complicated programming by simply adding the Google code.  Visitors to sites using Google Friend Connect will be able to see, invite and interact with new friends, or get authorization to use existing friends from Facebook, Plaxo, LinkedIn and others (but not MySpace).

With Friend Connect, profiles from social networking sites can be brought together so that, for instance, a political campaign can build a community of supporters by tapping into existing networks with Google as intermediary.

However, just days after its launch, Facebook suspended participation in the Google Friend Connect project, saying it violates its terms of service since Facebook users would not have control over third-party sites that would use Friend Connect.  They have also said that Facebook didn’t have a formal partnership with Google before it was released, not were they briefed on how it would work.  Facebook developer Charlie Cheever said in the Facebook developer’s blog "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."

Google has responded by outlining in detail how Friend Connect works in the Google Code Blog, saying that it is designed to "keep users fully in control of their information at all times".  According to Google, the only information that is passed from a social networking site to a third-party application is the user’s public photo, and that is under user control.  Furthermore, Friend Connect does not permanently store any data retrieved from Facebook and purges all the data every 30 minutes.

More Articles