Is Facebook already running scared of Google+?

Summary:It looks to me like Mark Zuckerberg is frightened of what Google+ may do to Facebook as his social network blocks the Facebook Friend Exporter program.

I've only been using Google's new social network, Google+ for a few days, but I already like Google+ a lot. I've already said Facebook had reason to worry about its users leaving it for Google+. It looks like Facebook agrees. Facebook has blocked Facebook Friend Exporter.

Facebook Friend Exporter, like the name indicates is an open-source Chrome Web browser extension that lets you export your Facebook friend data. Or, rather it briefly did that anyway. Facebook has blocked it.

It wasn't perfect. All it really did was export data--such as names, e-mail addresses, and birthday-- that your friends had shared with you as a comma separated value (CSV) file. You could then import this into Google+. It wasn't easy. Now it only sort of works.

Facebook, you see,  has been removing the e-mail addresses. This means you can't easily import the data into Google+. God forbid that Facebook let you copy your information from their site!

Facebook will allow you to download all your information (Account > Account Settings > Download Your Information > Learn More > Download), including Wall posts, photos, and friend data. But the lump file you'll eventually get isn't useful for much of anything.

Compare that, if you will, with Google Takeout. This complementary Google+ program lets me quickly and easily download all my Google+ information. Advantage: Google+

On top of this, TechCrunch is reported that while Google+ is still only beta and has a limited number of users, it's already "cracked our top ten referring sites." OK, so a lot of that data came during a holiday weekend when most people were watching fireworks and eating hot-dogs instead of playing with the latest Internet social network. Even so, it's impressive.

In fact, I think Facebook looked at their own numbers, looked at how well Google+ was doing, and got scared. That's the only reason I can come up with for Facebook slamming the door on Facebook Friend Exporter.

After all, the program had been around since November and Facebook is notoriously slow about fixing its own problems, never mind shutting down a harmless utility program. So, why was it so important just now to shut Facebook Friend Exporter down? I think it was to keep even a hint that Facebook might lose users to Google+.

Why would Facebook panic so early? Remember that no one really knows how much money Facebook makes and that until Facebook goes public, Mark Zuckerberg's $70-billion company is a whole lot more hype than dollars. If Google+ really takes off, and it's beginning to look like it is, Zuckerberg's fortune may not be quite as large as he's dreamed it would be.

Related Stories:

Facebook blocks Google Chrome extension for exporting friends

Google is starting to finally get social media with Google+

An Open Letter to Google: I love you, Google+, but...

Five Things to love about Google+

Topics: Social Enterprise, Google

About

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, aka sjvn, has been writing about technology and the business of technology since CP/M-80 was the cutting edge, PC operating system; 300bps was a fast Internet connection; WordStar was the state of the art word processor; and we liked it.His work has been published in everything from highly technical publications... Full Bio

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