Last year Google decided that it wasn’t going to let other services automatically export contact information from users’ email addresses, unless the service offered the same in return.
The change meant that users weren’t able to import their contacts into sites like Facebook, since it doesn’t allow export of contacts’ email addresses.
"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,” a Google spokesperson had said then.
It seemed like Google got angry at the fact that you can find friends on Facebook using Gmail, but there is no way that you can find contacts on Gmail using information on Facebook.
This only highlights the increasing rivalry going on between Facebook and Google.
Previously, Facebook made deals with Hotmail and Yahoo to let them access its contact information. But since Google didn’t make a similar deal, Facebook has left Google out of it.
This was Google’s way of trying to pressure Facebook into making it share its contact info with it, because, the more data it has, the better Google search becomes.
Suppose that Facebook does let Google access its information, Google can then provide a more personalized search result for any query since it knows your preferences from your likes and pages you visited on Facebook. How did Facebook respond? They made a workaround, namely directing the users to the page where they can download their Gmail contacts manually and upload them to Facebook.
On this move, a Google spokesman commented
“We’re disappointed that Facebook didn’t invest their time in making it possible for their users to get their contacts out of Facebook. 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.”
They did however, put up a “public service” message when Facebook redirected you to import Gmail contacts:
Then a few days later the page stopped appearing when users attempted to import Gmail contacts into Facebook, its not entirely clear whether Google stopped using it themselves or a settlement was reached.
The page itself is still online though. Now, however, Facebook has entirely dropped Gmail. Now when you import contacts, Gmail isn’t even an option. And even if you sign up with a Gmail address, Facebook won’t try to import all your contacts.
In the only official comment made by Facebook, their spokesman said that Google was concerned only because Facebook is more popular and a competitive threat. Whether its true, or simply a jab at Google is up to the reader to decide. But one thing is for sure, this certainly won’t be the last issue where these two giants collide as both continue in their pursuit to dominate the online world.