Google prods Facebook to allow users to export their contact data by preventing the social network's users from automatically uploading their contact data from Gmail.
Google Nov. 5 moved to strong-arm Facebook into making its data more
portable, barring the social network from automatically importing Gmail
Google allows its users to transfer data generated in its Web services to
other Websites, part of the company's Data Liberation Front program
Google with its Contacts Data API has
also allowed companies such as Facebook to pull Gmail users' contacts from the
service, helping users of the social network instantly populate contacts when
they set up their accounts.
This practice, which allows users to type in their Gmail user name and
password as part of the Facebook signup process, saves users the hassle of
manually importing contacts.
However, Facebook is more protective of its contact information. The
company, citing end-user privacy concerns, does not freely grant users the
freedom to export their contact data to other Websites. Instead, it has cut
private deals to let users of Microsoft Live Hotmail and Yahoo Mail import
Facebook contact data.
To that end, Google Nov. 4 altered its Google
Contacts Data API
terms of service to prevent Facebook and other companies
from automatically pulling Gmail contacts into their service.
Google will allow companies that leverage its API
to let users export their data from Google as long as these companies enable
the same practice of exporting data, including contacts. Enforcement is on a
In other words, Google is calling for a quid pro quo
on contact data.
Websites such as Facebook that don't allow users to import and export contact
info easily leave users in a "data dead end," a Google spokesperson
"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."