Facebook Blocks Google Chrome Extension for Exporting Friends to Google+

By on July 5th, 2011 08:46 GMT

Google+ is just starting out, but the reception has been very positive until now, a welcome change perhaps for a Google social web service. But it's still very early in the game to make any predictions and assumptions.

Facebook isn't taking any chances though, it has already blocked a Chrome extension which enabled users to export their friends' information and then import it into their Google and Google+ account.

The extension, aptly named, Facebook Friend Explorer, crawled Facebook to retrieve all of the contact info your friends have shared with you on the site, anything that you could see for yourself if you started browsing all of their profiles manually.

In fact, the extension does nothing that you couldn't do by yourself, you could simply copy, by hand, your friends' email addresses, where available, and then add them to the Gmail contacts.

But Facebook can't have any of that, it doesn't allow users to export any data from the site, crucially, you can't export any of your friends' info even though it's accessible to you.

The reason for this is simple, it doesn't want any potential competitor getting their hands on the data it fought so hard to obtain. The official explanation is that Facebook believes it's a privacy violation to export data you already have access to.

If it's sharing your data with the world plus dog, it's OK, it's the future, Zuckerberg says, but if it's about getting a list of your friends from the site, it becomes a privacy issue.

Google and Facebook actually got into a data export war, when Google started blocking Facebook's tool for importing Gmail contacts, since Facebook didn't offer the same facility.

Facebook's terms of service specifically forbids its users from using any automated means of exporting data.

But since tens of thousands of users already installed the Chrome extension and it couldn't simply ban all of them, Facebook proceeded to remove all of the emails from the profile pages of its users. If you install the extension now, you'll find that it simply doesn't work anymore.

"Facebook is trying so hard to not allow you to export your friends. They started to remove emails of your friends from your profile by today July 5th 2011. It will no longer work for many people," Mohamed Mansour, the developer behind the Facebook Friend Explorer extension, wrote in an update.

"New version with a different design is currently deploying. You might have to do exports daily. It uses a different approach, and I will maintain this version. Just bear with me," he added.

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