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Google alerts users to Facebook contacts 'trap'

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Google is now telling anyone stupid enough to import Gmail contacts into Facebook to reconsider such a foolish move because it’s a “trap”.

The two companies have been angrily shaking handbags at each other over the past few days in a public protest over who has the best data mine on the interwebs.

Just yesterday, a Facebook engineer dissed Google for snipping Mark Zuckerberg’s access to the Gmail Contacts API, by amusingly accusing the Mountain View Chocolate Factory of data-hoarding hypocrisy.

Now Google has kicked in a window and thrown a fire extinguisher at Facebook HQ to make its own protest against the Zuck one’s data grab.

“Hold on a second. Are you super sure you want to import your contact information for your friends into a service that won’t let you get it out?” asks Google on its contacts export page.

“Here’s the not-so-fine print. You have been directed to this page from a site [Facebook] that doesn’t allow you to re-export your data to other services, essentially locking up your contact data about your friends.

“So once you import your data there, you won’t be able to get it out. We think this is an important thing for you to know before you import your data there. Although we strongly disagree with this data protectionism, the choice is yours. Because, after all, you should have control over your data.”

Google, in its “trap” message, tried to come across as playful rather than all-out bitchy. But the world’s largest ad broker is, in effect, asking its users to choose sides in the Web2.0 war to end all wars. Or not.

Helpfully, the renowned data miner even offered up a link to anyone interested in registering a complaint over data protectionism.

Google's wonks added that, unlike the launch of the firm's botched Buzz service, it wouldn’t record or display your name or email address. Which is jolly nice of them.

Late last week, Google updated the terms of service for its Contacts API, preventing Facebook and other third-party applications from tapping the programming interface unless they offer something similar.

Facebook has long offered its users the ability to import contact names and email addresses from Gmail, via Google's API. At the same time, it prevents them from automatically exporting such data to other sites, including Google services: a fact that doesn't sit right with the internet kingpin. ®

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