Google Vs. Facebook: Whose Data Is It Anyway?


I have previously written about the dangers of using a fragmented IT infrastructure, held together by APIs and so called ‘mashable’ technologies, on my NASDAQ column. But this week saw a new danger emerge to innocent users and any small business using these API technologies; manifesting itself in the Google vs. Facebook business ego clash!

The upshot of this ego clash is that users will no longer be able to exchange data between Google and Facebook, as Google is no longer allowing the Facebook – Google API Bridge to work, sighting ‘unfair’ behavior of Facebook. This all begs the question, who’s data is it anyway?

You upload your contacts, documents and any other data onto Google Apps and then Google lets you know what you can and can not do with your, oh wait, or is it their data? In my opinion this all smacks of abuse of market power, with Google engaging in the same bulling tactics it has accused others of in the past.

These tactics are not very ‘social’ are they? In my opinion, data always belongs to the user and not to any online software vendor, even the likes of Google or Facebook. Making false claims in word or by implication, like we are a social media company and then using customer data in a battle for market share is, in my opinion, illegal at the best of times. When a company that has a very dominant market position, such as Google, it becomes something an external regulator needs to look in to. In my opinion, these tactics are clearly anti-competitive.

On a more practical note for small businesses, you need to look at how this impacts your business or how a similar problem could impact your business. For example, you have your accounting software with vendor A and your CRM software with vendor B via an API. One day, vendor A cuts the API to vendor B, leaving your business in tremendous difficulty. Even if you can get at your data, you will have to export it manually and then import it manually into the other application, or even worse retype the lot.

This is the reason that myself, and others, believe that an integrated business and IT infrastructure works best for the stability and effectiveness of your business. Make sure your data remains yours and cannot be used and abused for the business gains of third parties, no matter how big they are.

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