Since the launch of Google+, many users have been looking for ways to export their Facebook contacts into Google+. Last week, we saw the launch and then the subsequent block by Facebook of a Chrome extension imports Facebook contacts into Google+.
A few days back, Open-Xchange launched a tool to export contacts from Facebook for use in other network or services. This tool is different from many earlier Facebook contact exporter tools because all the APIs it uses are approved ones and it does not violate any of Facebook’s Terms and Conditions.
With Google+ knocking at the door, Facebook can recognize a tool that empowers users to break away from their aim of locking them in when it sees one. So, Facebook did what they did to Facebook Friend Exporter – they banned Open-Xchange’s tool despite the fact that it did not violate anything.
Well Facebook has a different idea and a double standard when they want to ban something. This is the email Open-Xchange got from Facebook regarding the ban:
To the Connector for ox.io Team,
We're writing to inform you that your app Connector for ox.io [...] has been disabled for the following violations:
1. You cannot use a user's friend list outside of your application, even if a user consents to such use, but you can use connections between users who have both connected to your application. (FPP II.11)
2. A user's friends' data can only be used in the context of the user's experience on your application. (FPP II.4)
Please note that we will not re-enable violating applications and any policy issues in your existing and future apps will result in further enforcement actions.
Our expectation is that developers do not provide users with poor experiences, such as those resulting from inappropriate or misleading content, privacy and security vulnerabilities, and general spam in the Stream, Requests, and elsewhere. We appreciate your commitment to improving the application ecosystem on Platform.
If you want to see what a future looks like where a single company controls YOUR personal data for its own profit, this is a glimpse. Clearly, Facebook management does not want you to have the ability to take your personal information outside their walls to, say, Google+ and will do everything in their power to stop you, including violating their own terms and conditions.
Open-Xchange reiterates that there is nothing invalid about what they are doing in their reply to Facebook.
We are not aware of violating anything. We are using your API to extract the last name and first name fields. We are not parsing or scraping the email address. That same data is available at your site under "Account->Account Settings->Download Your Information" in the resulting friends.html file.
Is there a way to get sanctioned or even paid access? You must have some kind of arrangement with Yahoo, which even has an import capability of not only the names but also the Facebook e-mail addresses? How can Yahoo do it without violating points 1 and 2 above?
This is what Rafael Laguna, CEO of Open-Xchange, said:
Honestly speaking, we were very much surprised to see that Facebook yesterday disabled the API key to the free tool we built last week that allows contact information of your friends to be exported our of Facebook.
The points raised by Open-Xchange are all very valid points which a lot of people - including Google – has raised. Facebook has never answered it to anyone’s satisfaction.
As Google ups the ante in the social battle with Google+, it is becoming incredibly clear that Facebook is not upto the challenge. Many of their recent big announcements have been a big duds. Their “awesome announcement” of group chat and Skype video chat has been overshadowed by Google+’s Hangout. Their announcement of the “Gmail killer” Facebook email has been a huge flop.
Facebook is unable to complete on merit and they know it. Instead of coming up with new innovative features to keep users, they want to prevent users from migrating to other networks by making it a huge pain to make the migration. This is a big strategic mistake from Facebook.
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