The Social Network Wars Begin In Earnest: Facebook Bans Google Friend Connect

Update: More details here.

Facebook is all about openness and data portability, as long as that doesn’t involve openness or portability of data, it seems.

Today they wrote a long 7 paragraph blog post to get a single point across: Facebook has banned Google’s Friend Connect access to the Facebook API:

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.

This of course has nothing to do with the fact that Facebook launched their own nearly identically named product called Facebook Connect three days before Google’s Friend Connect.

It’s not clear exactly what features of Friend Connect justified the ban, since it is so similar to what Facebook announced on Friday. Both products allow the export of profile and friend list data to third party websites.

In the last paragraph of the blog post, Facebook says they want to work with everyone: “We think MySpace’s Data Availability, Google Friend Connect, and Facebook Connect can be part of a great movement in the industry to give users a better and safer experience online, while respecting user privacy. We look forward to working with our developer community and everyone else in the industry to help all of our users take their information, and their privacy, with them wherever they go.” If that’s the case, this sure is an interesting start to a healthy working relationship with Google. Next up on the block list: MySpace and their Data Availability malware product, no doubt.

Thanks for the tip, Jesse.

Update: Facebook PR is pointing out Sections 2B(4), 2B(5) and 2A9(vi) of the Developer Terms of Service:

4) You may not store any Facebook Properties in any Data Repository which enables any third party (other than the Applicable Facebook User for such Facebook Properties) to access or share the Facebook Properties without our prior written consent.

5) You may not sell, resell, lease, redistribute, license, sublicense or transfer all or any portion of the Facebook Properties, or use or store any Facebook Properties for any purpose other than as specifically authorized herein.

You will not use Facebook Platform or any of your Facebook Platform Applications, and your Facebook Platform Application will not be designed…(vi) to request, collect, solicit or otherwise obtain access to usernames, passwords or other authentication credentials from any Facebook Users, or to proxy authentication credentials for any Facebook Users for the purposes of automating logins to the Facebook Site.