Saturday, June 14, 2008

Google goes out of its way to make Facebook roadblock obvious

After Google and Facebook could not come to terms over Google's Friend Connect service, the Mountain View-based search company has further snubbed Facebook, publicly noting Friend Connect users' incapability to access it.

Users noticed the snub when they logged into the service for all Google Friend Connect sites and noticed at the top was the Facebook logo with a "Disabled by Facebook" text where the log in link would normally be.

Using a "walled garden" type of design, Google, MySpace, and Facebook had once planned to share user information through a single platform, but privacy issues arose when it was discovered Friend Connect distributed user information without Facebook users' knowledge.

Friend Connect "lets non-technical site owners sprinkle social features throughout their web sites, so visitors will easily be able to join with their AOL, Google, OpenID, and Yahoo credentials," according to the official Google blog. "You'll be able to see, invite, and interact with new friends or, using secure authorization APIs, with existing friends from social sites on the web like Facebook, Google Talk, hi5, LinkedIn, orkut, Plaxo, and others."

Today, Facebook remains the only partner site that had an issue over Google privacy standards.

"Now that Google has launched Friend Connect, we've had a chance to evaluate the technology," Facebook developer Charlie Cheever wrote in a blog post. "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."

But Cheever noted that Facebook still has hopes it will be able to work with Google to clear up any possible privacy issues that exist.

Google countered Facebook's accusations by stating Google only stored Friend Connect ID numbers and security tokens, with no personal information being exchanged. Facebook then alleged Google railroaded it into accepting its rules without fully divulging in advance what they would be. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg attempted to arrange a meeting with Google in an attempt to discuss privacy issues, but if that meeting occurred, it looks like nothing positive resulted from it.

Friend Connect users initially sat on the fence and were relatively neutral over the public privacy feud between Facebook and Google. But it seems more users are becoming frustrated with Facebook's stance, and want the popular social networking site to allow users to have the choice as to whether or not they want to be included in Google's Friend Connect.

Plaxo, Talk, LinkedIn, and MySpace remain loyal to the Friend Connect site, with users unsure if Facebook will allow itself to be included in the service in the future.

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