Facebook deactivates Open-Xchange's tool that enabled users to migrate their Facebook friends network to other locations.
Facebook has struck back at open-source
email and collaboration systems provider Open-Xchange
for developing a tool that enables
users to copy their Facebook friends network and move it to other sites.
On Sunday, July 10, 2011, Facebook
deactivated a tool created by Open-Xchange that enabled Facebook users to
control their personal data and export and use it in any way they choose,
Open-Xchange said in a press release.
Made available for free at http://ox.io
, the tool
uses approved Facebook APIs and is not in violation of any terms and conditions,
as interpreted by the management of Open-Xchange, officials at the company
"If you want to see what a future
looks like where a single company controls your personal data for its own
profit, this is a glimpse," said Rafael Laguna, CEO of Open-Xchange, in a
statement. "Clearly, Facebook management does not want you to have the
ability to take your personal information outside their walls to, say, Google+
and will do everything in their power to stop you, including violating their
own terms and conditions."
According to an email, Open-Xchange
officials said they received from Facebook:
"We're writing to inform you that your
app Connector for ox.io has
been disabled for the following violations:
"You cannot use a user's friend list
outside of your application, even if a user consents to such use, but you can
use connections between users who have both connected to your application. (FPP
"Our expectation is that developers do
not provide users with poor experiences, such as those resulting from
inappropriate or misleading content, privacy and security vulnerabilities, and
general spam in the Stream, Requests, and elsewhere. We appreciate your
commitment to improving the application ecosystem on Platform."
However, "Facebook, G+ and all the
others have one thing in common: The data is outside the firewall of any
company-no legal control, no control over what gets shared," Laguna told eWEEK.
"When the -Hotel California' model doesn't work for business, sometimes you
need to be able to -check out' your data."
In addition, in a statement, Laguna
also said: "From a technical standpoint, Facebook's claim of violation of
terms is preposterous. All we are doing is using the Facebook API to extract
the last name and first name fields. We are not parsing or scraping the email
address. That same data is available on Facebook under Account->Account
Settings->Download Your Information in the resulting friends.html file. This
is not about user experience. It is about Facebook not wanting anyone to
control their personal information-except Facebook."
Open-Xchange is an open-source-based
email server and collaboration platform that is used by tens of millions of
customers worldwide, the company said.
Social OX was created by Open-Xchange
to help people control their own data
that they use on social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. Anyone
wishing to export their data creates a Social OX account at http://ox.io
. All data
input and stored in this account is an individual's private data, the company
said. Social OX is not a public cloud service that scans user data. It's a free
demo, according to Open-Xchange.
Social OX then employs the approved
APIs from the social and business networks to create address books for each of
them, Open-Xchange officials said. This data is then enhanced with the contacts
from the user's email accounts that are already part of their Open-Xchange
account. This data from all networks and address books and all contacts from
emails is then merged into a central address book.
Open-Xchange has been challenging the
Facebook way in posts on its blog. In a post from May
, Juergen Geck, CTO of
"Social networks are not social.
Facebook makes a living out of selling access to customers. From a Facebook
perspective this means that user data must not migrate elsewhere. This means,
no access for Google, and definitely little to no control by the user. If
Facebook did allow user data to flow freely to other service providers, their
role as a gatekeeper could not be profitable; no data flowing out of Facebook
means no social interaction with independent services (vs. e.g. Zynga being a
Facebook only service).
"The next big thing after MySpace and
Facebook will be true social networking based on conventions and data
standards, with data gluing together remote services that meet the unmet needs
of customers, i.e. the rightful owners of their own data."
And on July 7, Laguna wrote
: "The Cloud needs to be
open-just as source code and data protocols needed to be open to create the
Internet. With more and more data moving into and being created inside the
cloud, this data needs to be owned by the creators, not the services."
Laguna also said in that July 7 post:
"There are always courageous people
like Mohamed Mansour from Ottawa, who implemented
a quick hack for Google Chrome to export your Friends from the Facebook
site and plug them into your GMail Address book, from where you can re-use
them inside G+ to define your -Circles.' It worked a few hours until
Facebook shut it down. Dumb move if you ask me.
"At Open-Xchange, we have developed a
little extension to our Social OX feature to provide just that, copying of
your networks to and fro, only using the official APIs."