Facebook flap: Google's side

Facebook flap: Google's side

Summary: Amid the Facebook move to block Google's Friend Connect, the search giant has responded.As expected, Google had a few issues with Facebook's privacy assessment of Google Friend Connect.

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Amid the Facebook move to block Google's Friend Connect, the search giant has responded.

As expected, Google had a few issues with Facebook's privacy assessment of Google Friend Connect. There's a lot of debate on Techmeme about the issue and it's a big one as all of these companies are wrestling over social data portability. Since most of these data portability efforts aren't out of the press release stage, the verbal jousting isn't all that surprising.

Robert Scoble thinks Facebook has a point. Others are on Google's side. Add it up we have a Google said, Facebook said situation. Here's the reaction from Google's press folks verbatim.

We're disappointed that Facebook disabled their users' ability to use Friend Connect with their Facebook friends. We want to help you understand a bit more about what's going on on the Friend Connect side with respect to users' information.

User privacy is of the utmost importance, and Friend Connect was designed to strongly preserve it. The larger issue here is users' control of their data. People find the relationships they've built on social networks really valuable, and they want the option of bringing those friends with them elsewhere on the web. Google Friend Connect is designed to keep users fully in control of their information at all times. Users choose what social networks to link their Friend Connect account to. (They can just as easily unlink it.) We never handle passwords from other sites, we never store social graph data from other sites, and we never pass users' social network IDs to Friend Connected sites or applications.

For example, here's what an application running on a Friend Connected site can access about a user, Joe, who has linked in his hi5 account:

7547238438 joe [picture] 9438265867 8348357012

Translation: Not much. A third party app has access to: - Your Google Friend Connect ID. This is a number. It is not a name, and it is not your hi5 ID. - Your friendly name that you entered into Friend Connect (or from hi5 if you didn't). - Your photo. And only if you've chosen to make that photo public on hi5. - The Google Friend Connect IDs of any of your hi5 friends who are also members of this site. (NOT all of your hi5 friends. Not their hi5 IDs.)

That's it. These apps have no knowledge of who these friends are. They have no access to additional profile data -- yours or your friends'. No idea who else is on your friends list on your social network.

From here I have to dig in on each step along the data portability chain to see what the real deal is. At a high level, it's a walled garden scrum.

In the meantime, here's Dan Farber's assessment of the data portability efforts.

Topics: Social Enterprise, Collaboration, Google

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