Google to Facebook: unlock your user data

May 22, 2012

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Google gets in hot water over user privacy on a pretty regular basis, but it's nothing to the kind of scrutiny that Facebook gets over its 900 million users. To their credit, Google has been fairly straightforward, even allowing those who are dissatisfied to pack up and leave after downloading all the relevant files. Facebook... doesn't. In a recent interview with Charlie Rose, Google CEO Larry Page expressed the sentiment that Facebook could be doing more to be open about how is uses the data it collects.

Contrast this with Google's Data Liberation Front, which allows users to more or remove any and all data from pretty much all of Google's major services. Of course Google's not exactly innocent when it comes to privacy - their recent privacy policy changes drew near-universal ire, and organized an Internet-wide campaign to change user settings. Even so, people trust Google more in general than they do Facebook.

Quote Page:

From a user’s perspective, you say … I’m joining Facebook. I want my contacts. In Google, we said, fine. You can get them from Google. And the issue we had is that then Facebook said, no, Google, you can’t do the reverse.

But undoubtedly what Page is referring to is Facebook's lack of interoperability with Gmail, an issue that starts and ends with Facebook. Months ago the social network decided to disable its ability to connect users with members of their Gmail contact list, though the answer given was less than satisfactory. Perhaps now that Google is in the social networking business with Google+, we have out answer.

[via VentureBeat]

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  • gmaninvan

    As much as you can’t fully trust one heavyweight over the other. Page speaks the truth. You can download every single piece of data from every single google property in usable form.

  • you can download all your info from facebook if you go to ‘account settings’ -> ‘general’ and at the bottom there is a link to download all your facebook data. it is a ginormous zip file, but you can get your data out of facebook. the question of whether you can *remove* your data is up in the air.

    • Firehazel

      This is true. I downloaded all the photos I posted, my status updates and my info page. If you didn’t post a lot of photos, then the download can be rather small; mine ended up being 3.26 MB unzipped.

  • Marc Razia

    It strikes me that when ever a service makes it difficult for you to leave or delete your account, they are afraid you will head to a competitor that offers more value.  Whereas, when a service makes it easy, its because they believe they offer more value to their customers and thus don’t fear that people will leave just because they can.  

    Perhaps if Facebook was confident it could stand on its own quality they wouldn’t have to make it so difficult.