Twitter CEO Evan Williams said at the Web 2.0 Summit here Nov. 17 that he would like to work with Facebook on additional data exchange. Facebook is frosty to the idea.
Twitter would still like to work with
Facebook despite the companies' failure to agree to an equal exchange of data,
Twitter CEO Evan Williams said at the Web 2.0 Summit Nov. 17.
The Web services share a lot of the same users, so
connecting them makes sense. At least, it makes sense for Twitter, which has
175 million users to Facebook's 500 million social networkers.
Twitter and Facebook do integrate, but the exchange is
one way. Users can post tweets to Facebook, but can't publish Facebook status
updates to Twitter.
"We're talking to them often to see if there is a
way to work together, but so far neither side has found out a way to do that
other than what we've done already," Williams said, acknowledging that he
is frustrated with Facebook's reluctance to share the data.
"We'd like our users to tap into Facebook to make
their Twitter experience better. But I understand their position. They see
their social graph as their core asset, and they want to make sure there's a
win-win relationship with anybody who accesses it,"
Williams' comment cut to the heart of Facebook's
reticence to export certain types of data to other companies' Web services.
Facebook spent the earlier part of the month brow-beaten
by Google and media for declining to allow the search engine's Gmail users to
export their Facebook contact info to Gmail.
Again, the data exchange was one way, as Facebook users
could export their Gmail contacts to populate their accounts on the social
network. Frustrated, Google moved to block
Facebook from doing this automatically.
In a dart thrown at Google, Facebook worked around
the technical obstruction using Google's data export
software. Summit host John Battelle asked both Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Facebook
CEO Mark Zuckerberg about this standoff, but neither provided satisfactory
That's quite alright. Williams nailed it; Facebook's
social graph is its raison d'etre. The company guards its user data like it's
Fort Knox during a period of civil unrest.
As Williams noted, Facebook will share its data as long
as it gets something out of such deals. Perhaps the onus is on Twitter to
sweeten the pot.
Facebook appears to be even more protective of its data
versus Google, a signal that the search engine is the ultimate threat to its
cozy walled garden.
While the social network enables Yahoo and Microsoft Bing
to export Facebook contact info to those companies' mail services, it does not
extend the same courtesy to Google.
In this vein, Facebook and Google have more in common
than people believe.
The social graph is Facebook's crown jewel just as search
is Google's crown jewel. People have tried for a decade to get Google to share
the secret sauce of its search algorithms to no avail.
Facebook cites privacy concerns; Google cites fears that
people will use the algorithms to boost their placement on the search engine.
Both are valid reasons. Google has refused to bend. Will
Facebook also hold the line?