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Google Challenges Facebook Over User Address Books 120

Posted by Soulskill
from the where's-my-say dept.
jcombel writes "When you sign in to Facebook, you had the option of importing your email contacts, to 'friend' them all on the social network. Importing the other way — easily copying your Facebook contacts to Gmail — required jumping through considerable copy/paste hoops or third-party scripts. Google said enough is enough, and they're no longer helping sites that don't allow two-way contact merging. The stated intention is standing their ground to persuade other sites into allowing users to have control of where their data goes — but will this just lead to more sites putting up 'data walls?'"
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Google Challenges Facebook Over User Address Books

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  • About time (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    About time for someone to challange Facebook

  • by bjourne (1034822) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @09:31AM (#34146758) Homepage Journal
    The problem is that importing Facebook "friends" to gmail requires you to get access to their email address. Friends are in quotes, because Facebook friendship is more like shallow aquantances than friendship. Most of those people you don't want to share your email address with. It is a different thing entirely when people voluntarily give out their email addresses by signing up for Facebook apps, but in this case the email sharing would happen involuntarily.
    • Yes, but you could "invite" them?

      • by FatdogHaiku (978357) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @03:07PM (#34148372)
        Exactly like I get an "invite" from Facebook every time someone with my email address in their contacts allows fB to parse their address book? I opt out every time but it happens a couple times a year anyway. And what really pisses me off is at the bottom of each invite is a list of all the other fB users that I "might know"... based on fB finding my address in an imported contact list for each of them... now, I don't have an fB account so why are they correlating people that have my email address on an ongoing basis? Once they have sent out invites, why is fB keeping the information from the imported contacts? And how do I get them to delete (i.e. not retain) my email address when I'm not a member...
    • by Partaolas (1926386) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @09:37AM (#34146794)
      So most people don't mind sharing personal information with these "friends", but when it comes to sharing their email is where they draw the line? I would think it would be the reverse. Many people have my email address, very few of them know who I am dating or what I did last night.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Rockoon (1252108)
        Very few people have my email address because I dont want them "inviting" me to sites, because for most sites that is exactly equivalent to them ordering viagra and penis enlargement emails for me.

        I dont give a crap if general acquaintances know who I am dating, or what movie we saw last night. I do give a crap how many spam emails I get.
        • by contrapunctus (907549) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @10:35AM (#34147032)
          use another email for facebook so your real email remains clean while you're at it, run facebook in a separate browser (that is only for facebook) so they can't track all your activities and link them to your account (or other websites knowing who you are from your facebook cookies (or some other way they use to track you)).
          • by hsmith (818216) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @10:50AM (#34147130)
            You are totally missing the point. If your brother has your email address and uses GMail. He logs into Facebook and does the "Find people I know using Google Mail" - Facebook then has your address.
            • Anybody who has your email address can give it to Facebook or some e-card place, or any other sketchy place that may send you unsolicited email. Anybody who has your real address can sign you up for dozens of magazine subscriptions or order pizza delivered to your place.

              As soon as the information is out there, you've lost control over it. It's not nice, it's not good, but that's the way it is.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 06, 2010 @10:19AM (#34146974)

        Many people have my email address, very few of them know who I am dating or what I did last night.

        True, they may not know what you did last night. But given you're a Slashdot user, they most certainly know what you did not do last night.

      • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @12:21PM (#34147584) Journal

        Oh yes we do, your on slashdot:

        So, you ain't dating anybody, and you spend last night re-compiling the kernel, then crying yourself to sleep in your cold lonely apartment. Only comforted by the hum of your computers.

        Or is that just me?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          Oh yes we do, your on slashdot:

          So, you ain't dating anybody, and you spend last night re-compiling the kernel, then crying yourself to sleep in your cold lonely apartment. Only comforted by the hum of your computers.

          Or is that just me?

          With that many computers, it's certainly not cold.

        • by antdude (79039)

          Not me. I was watching the newest/latest episodes of Smallville and Clone Wars, surfing the Internet, reading the newsgroups, etc. at my mom's place underground (I am an ant, remember? :P). However, being single part is true for me as a nerd/geek.

          P.S. You're != your. :P

        • Or is that just me?

          Nah, it probably wasn't just you who cried yourself to sleep in his cold lonely apartment... ;-)

      • by SeaFox (739806)

        Many people have my email address, very few of them know who I am dating or what I did last night.

        If you were that worried about people knowing who you are dating or what you did last night, why would you post it on Facebook to start with?

      • So most people don't mind sharing personal information with these "friends", but when it comes to sharing their email is where they draw the line?

        I would think it would be the reverse. Many people have my email address, very few of them know who I am dating or what I did last night.

        I think you don't understand the issue here. "Most people" seeing whatever information you deem to make public or semi-private is a lot different than a corporation, without your permission, obtaining and keeping and selling and using your personal contact information (ie: email address). Heck, that info isn't even displayed on one's info page on Facebook if they dont want.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Ok, but many people do have their email address displayed on facebook. You can have your email addresses displayed to friends/networks.

      Why not allow the exporting of those email addresses that can be seen by that user?

      • by Z_A_Commando (991404) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @12:48PM (#34147708)

        Back in the day (2004-2006), when Facebook was only for college students, email addresses on Facebook used to be mailto: links. Since crossing the collegiate network boundaries was more difficult than it is now (Facebook hadn't eroded basic privacy that far yet), having a person's email was a surefire way to make sure you found who you were looking for.

        Once Facebook opened up to non-college students, I believe emails displayed on Facebook actually became images to harden them from harvesting by spam bots. This was before "granular" privacy controls, and so anyone who was your "friend" on Facebook could see your basic information, of which your email was a part.

        Once Facebook was forced to introduce stricter/"easier" privacy controls, a user could restrict, on an per-individual basis, who could see their email(s). As a result, emails became text.

        In regards to allowing exporting other users' information, I think Facebook would face a huge backlash from users and "game" developers, for different, though obvious reasons. However, the biggest reason this won't happen is because Facebook's goal is to hoard users' information by providing low barriers to entry and high barriers to exit.

    • The problem is that importing Facebook "friends" to gmail requires you to get access to their email address. Friends are in quotes, because Facebook friendship is more like shallow aquantances than friendship. Most of those people you don't want to share your email address with. It is a different thing entirely when people voluntarily give out their email addresses by signing up for Facebook apps, but in this case the email sharing would happen involuntarily.

      The email address is already visible in the info tab of the profile. This discussion is solely about whether a user can export all friends email addresses (that he can already see) *automatically*.

    • You don't need to have an email address to have a google contact, if you don't have any contact details then what's the point in importing them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bemymonkey (1244086)

      So how come the official Android Facebook app imports all Facebook contacts' E-Mail addresses directly into the Android contacts database?

      Sure, it's not a permanent sync/merge (the addresses are removed if you uninstall the Facebook app), but it doesn't seem that Facebook is overly concerned with keeping contacts' E-Mail addresses private.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by metamatic (202216)

        So how come the official Android Facebook app imports all Facebook contacts' E-Mail addresses directly into the Android contacts database?

        It doesn't. As you point out yourself:

        Sure, it's not a permanent sync/merge (the addresses are removed if you uninstall the Facebook app) ...

        The Facebook app keeps the contact data in its own separate database, and patches into the contacts app to show it alongside the Android contact database data. The Facebook data is never added to the Android contact database. You can

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by bemymonkey (1244086)

          Is that really relevant to end users? I don't think it's a necessary distinction, and is more of an annoyance in that users are baffled when the "synced" addresses don't show up in their Google contacts on the web...

          • by metamatic (202216) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @02:05PM (#34148080) Homepage Journal
            Yes, it's relevant to end users, because (a) it means the contact details don't show up in Google contacts, as you point out; (b) you can't access the information from any other Android app that does address book lookups; (c) if Facebook changes its mind about its app or your friend changes privacy settings, the contact information disappears; (d) the information won't sync with your desktop computer. I basically had to go through my Facebook friends and copy their contact information into the actual address book in order to be able to do stuff like send them SMS messages.
            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by tjhart85 (1840452)
              Exactly! I had to do the same. If you want to send an email to someone thats a facebook friend, you've got to look them up and it's a PITA (compared to just sending them an email).

              Personally, I'd much prefer Google having access to everyone I know than Facebook. It just sucks that Buzz sucks so horribly that it never really took off.
    • Friends are in quotes, because Facebook friendship is more like shallow aquantances than friendship.

      Uh, maybe for you? The only people I'm friends with on Facebook are people I know pretty well- people I've met, intend to meet again, and either am good friends with, or intend to get to be better friends. I've declined a number of friend requests from people I barely knew. And since I've looked at my friend's profiles on a regular basis, I can see all their email addresses. A number of them also have p

    • The problem is that importing Facebook "friends" to gmail requires you to get access to their email address.

      Some people make their contact information available to their friends, and most don't. Currently, Facebook doesn't make it easy to extract even that smaller subset of information. It would be great if they started doing that.

    • by phrend (690126)

      The problem is that importing Facebook "friends" to gmail requires you to get access to their email address.

      No, the problem is that facebook hasn't allowed data portability so that whatever contact info your "friends" do share hasn't been available by 3rd parties (like Google).

    • by Andy Dodd (701)

      The problem is that for people who HAVE shared their email address with you on FB, there is no good way to synchronize that data to another address book.

  • Facebook invites ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by frodo from middle ea (602941) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @09:36AM (#34146788) Homepage
    Good , now also block those annoying facebook invite emails and I'm a happy camper
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by k2enemy (555744)

      Good , now also block those annoying facebook invite emails and I'm a happy camper

      You can click a link at the bottom of the invite to stop receiving them. If it bothers you that much, this seems like a pretty "low cost" way of eliminating the problem.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mystik (38627)

        And you validate that the address facebook now has on record is real, legit, and interested in privacy.

        If you ignore, filter, and/or delete the message, they really can't confirm.

        Just follow the same procedure you use for SPAM/UCE

      • by Anonymous Coward

        It's a good practice to never "opt-out" for other spam, since it indicates that the address is indeed valid and used. So why should Facebook or any other social media site be treated any differently?

    • Gmail has filters based on the sender address, you know...

    • Push a button, mark it as spam, and let the Bayesian filters take care of it. Your spam is obviously not my spam.

  • well done, google (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zanderredux (564003) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @09:37AM (#34146796)
    awesome. fuck facebook for not giving the option to export contact lists with useful information. I had to pull a list of e-mails from facebook and I ended up going page by page and copying the e-mails by hand. facebook wants to hold all e-mails within it's walled garden and doesn't reciprocate...
  • I think it would be fair that most community-built sites lower their data walls. Not just facebook, but also, e.g., Amazon, and IMdb, which have huge collections of user-reviews, and let's not forget youtube.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      and let's not forget youtube.

      A quick google search would have found: http://www.dataliberation.org/google/youtube-1 .

    • by SnowZero (92219)

      YouTube export: http://www.dataliberation.org/google/youtube-1 [dataliberation.org]

      You can download videos one at a time, and there's an issue you can vote up for bulk download. Of course, youtube videos are usually lower quality than the original you uploaded.

      Comments cannot be exported, but I think that is a feature to aid in the preservation of human culture.

  • Data walls... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kent_eh (543303) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @10:17AM (#34146964)
    but will this just lead to more sites putting up 'data walls?'"

    And that's a bad thing why?
    Is it a good thing that one site can "one click" harvest large amounts of information about a person, and all the people they have ever met online?
    That doesn't sound very "opt-in" to me.

    For instance: if I'm one of the people in someone else's "collected addresses" address book (say, someone I bought something from on E-bay 2 years ago, and they didn't even realise my e-mail was automatically saved in their address book).

    I don't want Facebook Et al. having easy access thank you.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by techjoe (925811)
      It is really easy to tie people together and how they've come to be connected once you have such a large dataset to work from. I cannot stand the automatic address booking of addresses itself but that's just one small cog in this run-away train's gearbox..
  • I'm not sure if that's a good thing, or not. I tend to favor it most of the time.

  • Closed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by icebraining (1313345) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @10:53AM (#34147152) Homepage

    Facebook promotes all this semantic tagging of the web, trying to convince webmasters to use their (broken) RDFa standard OpenGraph so they can parse and extract all the info from other websites, yet they don't implement anything like it themselves. They're an information black hole, and other websites should be so willing to just give everything up without any reciprocity.

  • by Zamphatta (1760346) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @10:57AM (#34147172) Homepage
    Facebook wants to take without sharing. If it were a 5 year old kid, they're be forced to share or quit playing with the other kids. It's that simple. Google is actually moving to create an atmosphere of sharing data easily if the user wants to. Facebook's the one with the wall already, and Google's singing Pink Floyd, "tear down the wall!" and I've read multiple stories in the news this week about how this is a bad thing. Can you say FUD?
    • by sc0p3 (972992)
      hear hear! Same with Facebook and Twitter, its one way.
    • regardless of your stretch of a definition for fud,
       
      Google is singing "tear down the wall," by building a wall. we've been living in an environment of corporate self-protection lately; do you think this tactic will work, and convince Facebook "Oh, wow, I should open up here!"
       
      Or is it more likely that other sites will follow suit and prevent their users from easily getting in bed with other websites?

    • by Nerdfest (867930) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @11:51AM (#34147432)
      I've recently been trying to ensure that I have actual email addresses for people, as lately it seems that I end up doing most of my communication with people over FaceBook. This is not currently a bad thing, but could end up like the situation where you have an email address with your ISP and you can't dump them because this is how everyone contacts you ... and you end up being tied to a service you don't want. Years ago I extricated myself from that trap by getting my own domain. FaceBook is the next iteration of that problem ... many of us are tying too much functionality into something where it is difficult to choose an alternative.
  • I always skip any step that either prompts me to supply login info for another service or that will harvest other peoples emails through me. If I send an email to you should I expect it to be in face books db if you join facebook? Never liked that...
    • by tjhart85 (1840452)
      But, wouldn't it be nice to take the people you're friends with on Facebook and directly add them into your address book?

      It's significantly easier than harvesting the data from Facebook yourself (I've done it and it takes forever!)

      Facebook NOW has a find friends feature. It takes the contacts in your address book and tries to find matches using their name/email address. How is this a bad thing? It makes it easier for you and you get to choose the people from that list that you want to friend without
  • Prisoner's dilemma (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Isn't this basically the Prisoner's dilemma? Both Google and Facebook stand to gain by allowing users to share their hundreds of millions of contacts. It may be a slanted version of the prisoner's dilemma since Facebook has nearly twice as many as Google, but Facebook still probably stands to gain millions of users per year from Google and they are not in direct competition with one another, since a lot of people use both Facebook and Google.

    Turning the other cheek is typically a bad thing to do in these si

    • by bhiestand (157373)

      I'd say it's more of a stag hunt.

      Both sides' preferences can be ranked as follows: 1-way flow of info in their favor > 2-way flow of info > 1-way flow against / no flow

      Knowing this, either party will try to make this exchange as one-way as possible, and both sides always have an incentive to switch strategies. The only way to break this is to have complete, perfect information along with the proper trust along with some sort of deterrent... So Facebook has to know that Google can and will hurt them

  • Possibly (hint: summarize the event, put your comments/questions in a normal posting, not in the summary)
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Let's consider a few things
    a) you don't want spam
    b) you don't want your email address being used to identify you **anywhere** that you do not specifically allow.

    Question 1:
    - Why would you email anyone with a gmail account?

    Question 2:
    - Why would you want anyone to enter your email address into facebook (or any other "social media app/website" at all?

    When I provide you with my email, it is for your personal use, not the use of google, or facebook or LinkedIn or whatever other ad-based tool you

  • Glass houses (Score:4, Informative)

    by Raenex (947668) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @11:54AM (#34147446)

    Does Google accept OpenID from all providers yet? For years now, they have provided you with an OpenID, but didn't accept an OpenID from 3rd parties. They are just now starting to allow certain providers in (big ones like Yahoo).

  • I'll give up Facebook before I give up GMail.

  • I think anyone out there who has Half Life'd will understand.
    • by jgrahn (181062)

      I think anyone out there who has Half Life'd will understand.

      What about those of us who have only seen "Alien"? (That's an old movie, BTW.)

  • by js_sebastian (946118) on Saturday November 06, 2010 @12:16PM (#34147570)
    Facebook is so keen on having us use this feature so they get all of our email contacts as well, that it frequently show "suggestions" on the right hand side telling you that some of your friends have used the facebook friend finder feature... and the best thing is that in several cases it is an outright lie! I have asked my contacts if they had really used that, and several told me they had not, including a few security geeks who I trust are telling the truth (you know, people with papers published on social networks privacy flaws).
  • I have been receiving very odd spam messages from people who have been on my MSN messenger list that contains just a link which redirects to a pill site domain (which doesn't load, I assume it is one of those brute force exploit pages). The from field on the email address is their display name on Facebook. I have received it from 3 people, 1 of which is a friend on Facebook, all of them are on my MSN contact list. One person on facebook swears I even sent him one, and I am pretty darn sure I am not infected
  • by koan (80826)

    The only good corporations and businesses are those terrified of their customers, the minute the corps think they have the upper hand you get something like AT&T, horrible service, over priced, poorly managed and you have to sign their contract which they can change at any time.

  • In the end, they'll agree to share information. Odds are, Google is going to have to pay Facebook or give them a cut of ad revenue from ads targeted using the social networking information gained from Facebook. Can't say I have a problem with Facebook wanting cash, assuming that's part of the issue - they have information Google wants, Google ought to pay for the privilege. They already make enough money off serving ads while indexing other people's websites. At least the Facebook users know they're posting

  • Yes, because there's nothing starting an initiative of mutually beneficial and required openness to isolate projects and to put up walls.

    That's the reason why the GPL failed to ever gain traction, you know?

  • Google was making it easy for developers of other companies like facebook to import the gmail info, and not getting the same kindness in return, good for them, they should also change up the format so all the info in the past given out, would need to be revalidated thereby forcing all companies who want to import the gmail info to renew that trust and offer their code / help also for importing contacts etc...

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