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11/10/2010
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Google, Facebook Wrangle Over Data Sharing

Facebook engineer criticizes Google's decision to change the terms of service of its contact sharing API.

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Google and Facebook continued to wage their public war of words over openness, as Facebook engineer Mike Vernal posted a blog comment responding to a work-around that makes it easier for Facebook users to avoid Google's recent move blocking Facebook from capturing information about users' contacts in Gmail.

"Facebook Platform and the Graph API enable everyone to bring their own information to millions of sites and applications, including even Google's YouTube. It's still a work in progress and there's more to do, but in practice Facebook Platform is the largest scale initiative to help you move your information between services that exists today," Mike Vernal, a member of the Facebook engineering team, wrote in response to a TechCrunch blog. "Openness doesn't mean being open when its [stet] convenient for you. We strongly hope that Google turns back on their API and doesn't come up with yet another excuse to prevent their users from leaving Google products to use ones they like better instead."

The feud began last week when Google began the blockade in response, it said, to Facebook's ongoing policy of preventing Google from getting the same access to Facebook data with users' approval. Google accomplished this by changing the terms of use for its contacts API; Facebook reportedly is using Google's contact-download capabilities to circumvent the hurdle.

Facebook users can go to the "Find Friends" tab, download their Gmail contacts onto their hard drive, then import them into the social network with one click.

"We're disappointed that Facebook didn't invest their time in making it possible for their users to get their contacts out of Facebook. As passionate believers that people should be able to control the data they create, we will continue to allow our users to export their Google contacts," said a Google spokesman.

Google blocked access to the CSV file of Orkut -- popular in Brazil and India -- for the same lack of reciprocity, according to published reports.

However, Facebook users can import their Microsoft Hotmail and Yahoo Mail into Facebook.

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