The social networking ground war is well underway. Facebook said Thursday that it will block Google's Friend Connect services because it "redistributes user information from Facebook to other developers without users' knowledge."
We're excited that our industry partners are taking greater steps toward openness and enabling users to share their information around the web. We hope, though, that we can collectively find a model that allows users to share data while protecting the privacy of our users' data and ensuring that the user is always in control.
In the past, when we found applications passing user data to another party (for instance, to ad networks for the purpose of targeting), we suspended those applications and worked with those developers to ensure they respect user privacy. Now that Google has launched Friend Connect, we've had a chance to evaluate the technology. We've found that it redistributes user information from Facebook to other developers without users' knowledge, which doesn't respect the privacy standards our users have come to expect and is a violation of our Terms of Service. Just as we've been forced to do for other applications that redistribute data in a way users might not expect or understand, we've had to suspend Friend Connect's access to Facebook user information until it comes into compliance. We've reached out to Google several times about this issue, and hope to work with them to enable users to share their data exactly when and where they choose.
An interesting volley eh? It sure didn't take long for Facebook to fire back at Google, which is keen on being a bigger social networking player.
If what Facebook argues is true--chances are Google will beg to differ--the company has a point. These interconnections are swell until there's something exposed that you'd like to keep private.
Privacy and openness go hand-in-hand - as we open up, we have to make sure that users always have control of their information, and understand how and where it's being used. We've maintained that trusted environment while opening up Facebook Platform and the social graph to external developers by requiring third-party application developers to treat user information with the same respect we do.
The conundrum: How many competitors are going to block out others in the name of user privacy?