Google blocks Facebook from its Contacts

Zuckerberg - not reciprocating
Zuckerberg - not reciprocating

The increasingly frosty relationship between Facebook and Google has grown a little colder, with the search giant making a change to its terms and conditions that will stop the social networking site having access to your email contacts.

Facebook has previously been allowed to comb through your Gmail contacts to find potential matches, but Google is unhappy that its openness is not being reciprocated.

A change to the site's Terms of Service – as reported on TechCrunch – means that any site that wants to use the Google Contacts API has to offer reciprocity.

Pulled the plug

Facebook does not allow the export of contact information for your friends – and this means that Google has pulled the plug.

"Google is committed to making it easy for users to get their data into and out of Google products," said a Google statement.

"That is why we have a data liberation engineering team dedicated to building import and export tools for users.

"We are not alone. Many other sites allow users to import and export their information, including contacts, quickly and easily. But sites that do not, such as Facebook, leave users in a data dead end.

"So 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."

Ways and means

There are still ways and means for users to export their own contacts and then convert them into a file that Facebook can read - although this is obviously a major hurdle for the average person and some way away from the convenience of the previous method.

"Google users will still be free to export their contacts from our products to their computers in an open, machine-readable format – and once they have done that they can then import those contacts into any service they choose, added Google

"However, 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."

This will be a major, although by no means critical, blow for Facebook – with its huge user base having already used the tool previously and dels with Yahoo and Microsoft (Hotmail) meaning they will not close off their contacts to the social networking giant.

We're guessing that Mark Zuckerberg may not be receiving a Christmas card from Larry and Sergei this year.

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.