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Here’s Why Facebook Has Trouble Making Friends

It’s heartening to see that Mark Zuckerberg is following my advice and seeking a sit-down with Google to hammer out their differences over this Friend Connect thing.

Last week, Facebook unceremoniously blocked Friend Connect from accessing its data stream. Whether Facebook was on board or aware of Google’s plan beforehand depends on whom you ask.

It would be heartening as well to see Facebook coming to the defense of my private data as forcefully as it has been — if only it actually were about my private data.

Zuckerberg, in Tokyo to launch a Japanese-language version of the social net, said he’d like to “talk to Google about this and see if there’s a way we can make it work,” according to PC World.

Alrighty, Then

That sounds great. When can you guys figure this thing out so we can all move on?

Then Zuckerberg continued talking, and I realized this will probably take a lot longer than I originally hoped.

“Part of the issue with Google’s Friend Connect is that when users grant access to Google’s product, Google might share their information with another application — or some part of it, maybe not all of it — without that user knowing. And part of what makes our system work is that people know exactly who they are sharing all their information with,” he said.

Try Again

Again with the privacy thing? It’s getting a little tired and threadbare, Mark. Here’s why: It isn’t about privacy, it’s never been about privacy, and your statement is nothing but a scare tactic clearly inspired by your friend Steve Ballmer.

Let’s pick it apart: “Google might share their information with another application…” Google has already said exactly what information Friend Connect accesses and how it is used: a number that corresponds with nothing on Facebook, your user name (which you assign through Friend Connect), and a photo that you choose to include or not.

Notice how carefully he avoids using anything factual in crafting this argument: Google might use the information. What information? Who knows? … another application … What application? Again, no specifics.

Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt

It kind of reminds me of Ballmer’s FUD campaign against Linux. He asserted that Linux code violated Microsoft’s intellectual property, but then he wouldn’t say which intellectual property that was, nor would he specify which portion of the kernel was the source of the problem.

Zuckerberg then went on to mention that Facebook itself has a similar product, Facebook Connect, that has similar functions. And there is the real reason Facebook blocked access to Friend Connect. It simply does not want you using someone else’s product when it has one of its own.

So, while you might be inclined to fear for your privacy, fear not. Zuckerberg’s just given us a little bit of truthiness.

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