Facebook and Google’s Gmail contact conflict deepens

9 Nov 2010

After Google’s decision to block the direct export of contacts to sites which don’t return the favour, Facebook has provided a work around on its site, intensifying the dispute.

While Google has prevented the direct export of contact details to sites like Facebook that don’t reciprocate, it had provided an option to let users download their contacts to their computer and upload them to other sites.

Facebook has taken advantage of this, providing a link on its site to let users first move contacts from Gmail to their computer and then to upload it to Facebook.

While it’s technically not breaking Google’s terms of service, it still serves to heighten the dispute between the two internet giants.

“We’re disappointed that Facebook didn’t invest their time in making it possible for their users to get their contacts out of Facebook,” said a Google spokesperson on the matter. 

“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.”

Facebook has been dominating the social space online which Google has been keen to break into.

“Facebook is a significant challenge to Google’s dominance of the web sphere and it has decided that it doesn’t want to give Facebook any more advantage,” said Mike Davis, a senior analyst with research firm Ovum, to the BBC.

“This is Google waking up to the fact that it was the next big thing and that now Facebook is,” he said.

Google had previously added a term that stated it supports the portability of data, so by accessing content through Google’s Contacts Data API or Potable Contacts API for use in the site’s services, it must agree to let their contacts be exported to other services.

Facebook had made deals in the past with Hotmail and Yahoo to let those services access its contact data, but because Google did not form a similar partnership, it hasn’t done the same for Google.