Google Challenges Facebooks Data Stance
In accordance with Google's Data Liberation Front program, users will still be able to export their Gmail contacts to their computers in a machine-readable format. Users may then upload those contacts into Facebook. "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," the Google spokesperson said. "We hope that reciprocity will be an important step toward 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."Google's implication in the clause is clear: Those who fail to share contact data the way Google does don't support data portability. A phrase used to reward companies that share user data is the term "open" and to punish those who don't is "closed."That is the public relations weapon Google is now wielding against Facebook, which poses the first great threat to Google's online ad opportunities. With 500 million-plus users, Facebook is growing and finding interesting ways to monetize its massive network. Google, which relies on machine-driven algorithms to power its search and ad products, has struggled to match Facebook's social software prowess. By revising its Contacts API, Google could crimp Facebook's growth plans, giving it time to cultivate its own social network layers, code-named Google Me. Interestingly, Google CEO Eric Schmidt may have signaled this move in September when he told the media that while Google desired to access Facebook's contact lists, the company would find ways to get the data. He did not mention strong-arming Facebook for the data-which Google is clearly doing here-as one of those methods.