Friday brought reports that Google would begin blocking Facebook and other services from accessing the information of its users. The news arrives after Facebook announced its deal with Microsoft last month to allow Facebook information to appear within Microsoft search results.
Google's current move to contain user data is considered part of an information exchange war transpiring between it and Facebook. Google says that Facebook prevents the automatic import and export of its users' information, yet Facebook “siphons” Google contact data. It even went so far as to say Facebook and similar sites "leave users in a data dead end."
"We have decided to change our approach slightly to reflect the fact that users often aren't aware that once they have imported their contacts into sites like Facebook, they are effectively trapped," Google said in an emailed statement to Reuters. "We will no longer allow websites to automate the import of users' Google Contacts (via our API) unless they allow similar export to other sites."
Google will begin to enforce its new rules on a gradual basis. Users can still import their information into any other Web service by manually downloading contacts to their computers in "an open, machine-readable format."
Facebook poses as a viable treat to Google, owning a social market that the search engine giant has yet to capture. But more importantly, Facebook users can use the social service for sending messages, play games, chat in real-time, and perform searches. These are essentially offered for free and seemingly could chip away at Google's services, especially as more and more users create accounts.
There's no question that Google wants access to the half-billion Facebook users--a fathomless wealth of information that could be accessed via Google's search engine from anywhere. But Facebook isn't playing nice, and now Google is forcing its hand, cutting off Facebook from user data.
Gartner analyst Ray Valdes seems to think Friday's announcement will be one of many flashpoints between Google and Facebook. "It's one skirmish among many to come," said Valdes.