Is Google+ putting Facebook's Terms Of Service to the test?

Is Google+ putting Facebook's Terms Of Service to the test?

Summary: Facebook may be facing some actual competition with Google+. With many attempts by users to create a digital causeway between the two networks, will Facebook continue to monitor and shut every attempt down?

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A couple of weeks ago, when web developer Michael Lee Johnson was trying to figure out how to get some of his Facebook friends to adopt Google+ so he could try it out, he leveraged the most effective tools made available to him by, well, Facebook. He created a Facebook ad asking people to join him on Google+. It didn't take long for the Gods of Facebook to take notice and shutdown his ad. While this particular ad does violate Facebook's Terms Of Service and is grounds for removal of the ad, Facebook also cancelled his entire advertising account which contained several non-Google+ ads that he was paying Facebook cash-money to run.

Also back in July, an app called Google+Facebook was created by an Israeli company aimed at solving the problem of users wanting to share content and friends lists more easily across both networks. It was only a matter of time before Facebook blocked it. This comes as no surprise since Facebook was already rumored to have been actively blocking third party exporter tools designed to dump a user's contacts into other sites similar to Google+.

While blocking the opportunity for competitors to capitalize on a social network's own user base, one has to wonder about the premise behind social networks whose existence is based on the concepts of sharing, transparency, openness and other kumbayas. It seems that those concepts ONLY matter as long as it's within the confines of Facebook's own ideals. Sound familiar (ehem, Apple, cough)?

Google covers this in their policy as well for AdSense but it comes off as more of a subtle recommendation: "Promoting your site on third-party sites not designed for site promotion, or where such promotion is unwanted, such as classifieds or social networking sites" falls under the "Things to Avoid" section. It's standard to protect your business but I wonder if Facebook, or Google for that matter, are approaching their policies the best way. Do you think we still have work to do to create better standards or is this as good as it gets?

Can Facebook handle competition gracefully?

From a policy perspective, the way Michael Lee Johnson's case was handled seems a little ridiculous to me. It smells a little juvenile and reactionary to also shut down the rest of Michael's paid ads that had nothing to do with Google+ or any other competing sites. If you check out the Facebook Advertising Guidelines, you'll see the one statement that says it all: "Facebook reserves the right to reject or remove advertising that we deem contrary to our ad philosophy. These guidelines are subject to change at any time and Facebook may waive any of these guidelines at its discretion." I read this as — "Welcome to Facebook. You have no control, even if you follow the rules. We can change those rules. We can delete your account at will or any of your activity at anytime."

Admittedly, Facebook reserves that right. It's their website. However, in cases like Michael's, where he is a paying customer, wouldn't it be more appropriate for Facebook as a company with paying customers to have some type of system in place for communicating a heads up via private message that they had violated the ad policies, providing them with a notification and a reason, instead of bluntly convicting them in the form of a full shutdown? My guess is that the reaction to this web developer's Google+ ad campaign on Facebook revealed at a least a little pretentiousness and insecurity on the Facebook side of the fence.

I'm not convinced that behind closed doors at Facebook, the comfort level is high with the quick adoption of Google+ by techies and others, pushing its user base to well over 10+ million accounts in a very short amount of time. I have a feeling there are going to be some missteps in moderator behavior on the Facebook side as Zuckerberg and team put on their big boy pants when real competition rears its imminent head.

Topics: Social Enterprise, Google

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36 comments
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  • Great post man

    Zuckerberg is apprehensive, that much is no secret. I would have expected him to be a little more confident, since he's got a huge headstart. Currently Facebook(the company) is in 'lockdown mode', that means self-imposed period of intensive work/development, most developers are working everyday, staying in weekends, etc. This is on the news, anyone interested can look up 'facebook lockdown mode'.
    cameigons
    • RE: Is Google putting Facebook's Terms Of Service to the test?

      @cameigons - Thanks for taking the time to comment! I have a software engineer friend that interviewed there and apparently there's no QA process....if you write code and it works for you, you just push it out and hope it doesn't break all of Facebook. A lockdown mode might be an opportunity for them to clean all that up. :-)
      Rich Harris
      • RE: Is Google putting Facebook's Terms Of Service to the test?

        @Rich Harris There's some QA... I know a couple people there. It's definitely not GREAT QA, but they have some unit tests in place and some regression tests that need to be run before it can be pushed. Also their repositories are segmented by feature, and there's a release team who pushes releases of features. You can't just push directly from your source repository, that makes no sense, and facebook knows that... Where the issue lies is they have no real standards for test coverage and their QA suffers.

        I used to report bugs fairly frequently to facebook because sometimes they'd get fixed. But after the last couple I reported went unfixed for 3 months, I decided I'd never report a bug again because with that kind of responsiveness they don't deserve my time or help (and I want the competition to come and sweep them away).
        snoop0x7b
      • RE: Is Google putting Facebook's Terms Of Service to the test?

        @Rich Harris Thanks a lot... ^^ <a href="http://www.replica-hermes.org">hermes replica bags</a> <a href="http://www.replica-hermes.org">hermes purses</a> <a href="http://www.replica-hermes.org">imitation hermes</a>
        just-do-it
    • RE: Is Google putting Facebook's Terms Of Service to the test?

      @cameigons An Android phone syncs FB contacts. G+ looks up contacts as new friends. Problem solved...
      LarsDennert
      • RE: Is Google putting Facebook's Terms Of Service to the test?

        @LarsDennert Have you confirmed this works? I don't sync my FB friends to my contacts since it cluttered it all up last time I tried it, so I don't know. But, it seems that if it does currently work future updates to Android may break this (http://nexus404.com/Blog/2011/02/25/nexus-s-facebook-sync-removed-google-removing-facebook-sync-in-ongoing-nexus-s-gingerbread-update/)
        brent@...
    • RE: Is Google putting Facebook's Terms Of Service to the test?

      @cameigons By "apprehensive" I take it you mean "nutjob"?

      Here's an idea for their "lockdown" mode - how about allowing editing of posts and making groups easier to post to so you can prevent others from seeing posts you don't want them to???? Make too much sense right?
      blueskip
  • No big deal...

    Google pull these types of stunts all the time... it just that Google is the media's darling and don't get call out on it.
    iPad-awan
    • RE: Is Google putting Facebook's Terms Of Service to the test?

      @iPad-awan Maybe you should look at this site, Apple is way more their media darling than Google ever was!
      slickjim
    • RE: Is Google putting Facebook's Terms Of Service to the test?

      @iPad-awan What kind of "stunts" are you referring to? Can you provide source links as well?
      brent@...
      • RE: Is Google putting Facebook's Terms Of Service to the test?

        @brent@... Get off your butt and look. Stop asking for someone to spoon feed you.
        blueskip
  • If Facebook could, they'd trademark the letter 'F'

    As I remember from the last time I read through Facebook's TOS, a person cannot even mention the word Facebook on their site. Of course, Facebook could also put in their TOS that a person has to send in a video of themselves on their knees begging The Almighty and Powerful Zuck to be merciful enough to allow them to use Facebook before he grants that wish. Last time I checked, Facebook's trademark applied to website's not using the word Face in their name, not writing the word Facebook in the site's content.

    Zuck can throw as many tantrums as he wants, and maybe I'm wrong about this, as I am not an attorney, but it seems to me that if he really had any right to tell people whether or not they could use the word Facebook on their site, he'd be suing a whole bunch of companies for doing exactly that.

    Zuck strikes me as the kind of guy who earned his billions about 100 million lifetimes before most people. Now, he thinks that gives him the right to use scare tactics on people, including shutting down their advertising programs or trying to control what they do outside of Facebook.


    Though, maybe I'm wrong, and we should all make sure the word Facebook appears no where on our sites before Zuck rains fury on us.


    Erick
    ErickWrites
  • The Ego Has Landed...

    Zuckerberg wants Facebook to be the All-Being, Ruler of Time and Space. Well, contrary to popular belief, that's not going to happen.

    I find that I'm really enjoying Google+, and I'm not having to deal with game app invitations when I use it, which is a real bonus, as far as I'm concerned.
    BettyFreiburg
  • RE: Is Google putting Facebook's Terms Of Service to the test?

    Just set up a Yahoo email address, import your Facebook contacts into there. An then you can export them as a CSV file which can then be imported into Google +.
    Knowles2
  • RE: Is Google putting Facebook's Terms Of Service to the test?

    It's my friends list, my data. I should be able to do with it as I please.
    William_P
  • RE: Is Google putting Facebook's Terms Of Service to the test?

    FB are digging themselves a deep hole by fighting G+ in such childish ways; once they start looking defensive, they'll lose their 'pull' with the young, short-attention-span crowd.

    You move in those circles, and insecurity is commercial suicide.

    Again, Apple is the prime example of the marketplace bully, once you look closely at how they protect their market - but you wouldn't think so by reading here (or most tech blogs), because Apple have the sense not to appear spiteful in public.

    FB got a bloody nose by paying Burson-Marsteller to smear Google, then they blocked contact exporters, now they are banning dissidents, like a well-known porcelain dictatorship.

    It's all so petty and childish, not the behaviour of a confident market leader.

    Playing into Google's hands!
    Heenan73
    • RE: Is Google putting Facebook's Terms Of Service to the test?

      @Heenan73 - You said it about as well as anyone. By such insecure actions, FB is playing right into Googles' tech-savvy hands. You might say that Zuck is being "out-socialed" by the NKOTB (new kid on the block).
      bitdoctor
    • RE: Is Google putting Facebook's Terms Of Service to the test?

      @Heenan73 - Thanks for taking the time to comment! When Facebook reacted the way they did, Apple was the first company I thought of. :-)
      Rich Harris
  • Blocking Exporters and Such

    From where I stand it certainly seems to make sense for FB to block the tools folks use to transition over to G+. The biggest hindrance I've found (in getting friends to join my exodus) is that people are too lazy to take a little time to transfer info and learn the new system, despite the G+ team's efforts to make it about as familiar and easy to learn as possible.
    Facebook is definitely wearing their fear and apprehension on their sleeves with such blunt and outward reprisals, though.
    SenorAlejandro
  • RE: Is Google putting Facebook's Terms Of Service to the test?

    Facebook to users: We own the ball, the field, the stadium and the umpires. We also own the rules and have the right to change them, retroactively and without notice. And you do not have the right to question the rules (that is deemed a violation of the rules). Do you have a problem with that? Too bad.
    LDMartin1959