Why did Facebook tell Google “stay off our lawn?”

Well, we’ve fought about it. Made noise about it. And you’re witnessing two giants (Google and Facebook) fighting over our social networks. Here, let’s discover my social network:

Robert Scoble (Friend of:)

  • -Mike Arrington
  • -Louis Gray
  • -Sarah Lacy
  • -Kara Swisher
  • -About 4,997 other people

Now, why is this little tree so important? Why shouldn’t I be able to copy this little tree over to, say, FriendFeed or Twitter or Upcoming.org or Yelp or Flickr or Google’s Friend Connect?

Easy. There’s a TON of money in that little tree and the hundreds of millions of little trees that YOU have added into Facebook and MySpace and other places.

How do I know that? Well, there’s a little stealth company that I’ve started hearing about. Media6.

A friend told me about them. They figured out that if, say, Mike Arrington buys something, that his friends are two to 10 times more likely than the general public to buy the same thing. Take that into advertising on Facebook: if Mike clicks on, say, a CocaCola ad, Media6 knows that his friends are far more likely to click on that ad than the rest of the 100 million people on Facebook.

So what is Media6 doing? How are they building a database of all of this info? I hear they are making deals with all sorts of advertisers over on Facebook to have a little line of JavaScript added along with their advertisement. That is letting them build a super database of everyone and their friend networks (their social graphs).

This is what I don’t get about Facebook’s stance: I’ve already shown you two companies that are figuring out how to get access to Facebook’s social graph data without even getting on Facebook’s radar screen. The first is Minggl, who uses a toolbar to download all your social graph data to your browser where it’ll be a lot more useful to you and now we have Media6, who is building a huge database of you, and your advertising-clicking behaviors.

Now are you getting it? Advertisers will go to Media6 because they’ll be able to better match up ads with people who are much more likely to buy the stuff they are hawking.

I bet Facebook is building its own internal database of exactly the same data too.

Truth is your social graph tells the world a HUGE amount about you. Facebook doesn’t want you to move that other places easily.

Translation: there are billions of dollars at stake here.

56 thoughts on “Why did Facebook tell Google “stay off our lawn?”

  1. That idea has implications for customer service in the real world too. Keeping Mike Arlington happy and building relationship with him gives companies better access to his friends, who are more likely to buy that the gen. pop.

    My question is, “where does this stat of two to 10 times more likely to buy come from?”

    Ben

  2. That idea has implications for customer service in the real world too. Keeping Mike Arlington happy and building relationship with him gives companies better access to his friends, who are more likely to buy that the gen. pop.

    My question is, “where does this stat of two to 10 times more likely to buy come from?”

    Ben

  3. Interesting post. I would just add:

    The real value is in users’ attention data. Artificial bi-directional unweighted social graphs like friendster, myspace and facebook are yesterday’s technology. Is the data that I have ~200 “friends” on facebook anywhere close to the truth about who I actually pay attention to?

  4. Interesting post. I would just add:

    The real value is in users’ attention data. Artificial bi-directional unweighted social graphs like friendster, myspace and facebook are yesterday’s technology. Is the data that I have ~200 “friends” on facebook anywhere close to the truth about who I actually pay attention to?

  5. Robert, I remember telling you some time back that Facebook opening up their APIs would be a winner in the short term but wind up costing them big in the long run.

    It’s like giving every friend you have a key to your house. Sure it guarantees you’ll have a lot of “friends”, but…

  6. Robert, I remember telling you some time back that Facebook opening up their APIs would be a winner in the short term but wind up costing them big in the long run.

    It’s like giving every friend you have a key to your house. Sure it guarantees you’ll have a lot of “friends”, but…

  7. the only time i ever click on online advertising is by mistake, and i’ve been using the web a lot for 10 years

    I can’t imagine browsing a website, and saying “oh…..the new Lexus..” *click*

    Same with Gmail…….. i mention that my car is going into the shop, and i get 10 car ad’s. its sort of contextual….but not really

  8. the only time i ever click on online advertising is by mistake, and i’ve been using the web a lot for 10 years

    I can’t imagine browsing a website, and saying “oh…..the new Lexus..” *click*

    Same with Gmail…….. i mention that my car is going into the shop, and i get 10 car ad’s. its sort of contextual….but not really

  9. Right. I liked Dan Farber’s notion of this as potentially needing a revolution where users band together to insist that our data is … ours!

  10. Right. I liked Dan Farber’s notion of this as potentially needing a revolution where users band together to insist that our data is … ours!

  11. “Pay to play”… wasn’t that also promoted by ppl including, hmm, Arrington?

    Let’s face the truth, Google is a, what, 200 Billion dollar company?

    What’s Facebook’s — at least for, today?

    And how much money has Google paid MySpace, so far?

  12. “Pay to play”… wasn’t that also promoted by ppl including, hmm, Arrington?

    Let’s face the truth, Google is a, what, 200 Billion dollar company?

    What’s Facebook’s — at least for, today?

    And how much money has Google paid MySpace, so far?

  13. Wow, another great reason to hate Facebook.

    I totally agree with Thomas Hawk’s comment above.

    It’s super frustrating that users have NO control over THEIR own social contact data. Even more stupid is that there’s no easy way to import/export said data; zero data portability. We need a platform independent solution which integrates a user’s social networking data (such as one’s online profile, avatar, bio, contacts, etc.) all into 1 seamless solution which the user maintains *control and manage* … not Facebook, or some other giant spammy advertising company! augh!

  14. Wow, another great reason to hate Facebook.

    I totally agree with Thomas Hawk’s comment above.

    It’s super frustrating that users have NO control over THEIR own social contact data. Even more stupid is that there’s no easy way to import/export said data; zero data portability. We need a platform independent solution which integrates a user’s social networking data (such as one’s online profile, avatar, bio, contacts, etc.) all into 1 seamless solution which the user maintains *control and manage* … not Facebook, or some other giant spammy advertising company! augh!

  15. its interesting that Google is only trying to import facebook friends in Friend Connect. Is anybody curious why they are not including MySpace in this, especially when they wer already an OpenSocial partner?

  16. its interesting that Google is only trying to import facebook friends in Friend Connect. Is anybody curious why they are not including MySpace in this, especially when they wer already an OpenSocial partner?

  17. I have to compliment you on this post as well. Everyone knew this being more or less consient about it, but it was this post that put the fact in straight words. Good job.

  18. I have to compliment you on this post as well. Everyone knew this being more or less consient about it, but it was this post that put the fact in straight words. Good job.

  19. This is the first I’ve heard of Media6 – very interesting!

    The more I dwell on this whole topic of the amalgamation of internet/privacy/security – I keep thinking about the various “user IDs” that exist off the net – like Kroger/Giant Eagle’s “value cards” to cut the price you pay (no card? That’s an extra fifty bucks…) – and no doubt start tracking your purchases. And that’s not even anything new, like WalMart’s finding of blueberry pop tarts and hurricanes.

    Eh, it ten years it probably won’t matter – I’m sure our kids are used to the idea that what’s on the net is essentially public in every way shape or form – maybe it’ll just make them better with personal data management than we all are.

  20. This is the first I’ve heard of Media6 – very interesting!

    The more I dwell on this whole topic of the amalgamation of internet/privacy/security – I keep thinking about the various “user IDs” that exist off the net – like Kroger/Giant Eagle’s “value cards” to cut the price you pay (no card? That’s an extra fifty bucks…) – and no doubt start tracking your purchases. And that’s not even anything new, like WalMart’s finding of blueberry pop tarts and hurricanes.

    Eh, it ten years it probably won’t matter – I’m sure our kids are used to the idea that what’s on the net is essentially public in every way shape or form – maybe it’ll just make them better with personal data management than we all are.

  21. Fakebook sucks so much it is not funny anymore
    MySpace is ten times bigger
    OpenID should be defacto standard and should be monetized
    Google should open a new social

  22. Fakebook sucks so much it is not funny anymore
    MySpace is ten times bigger
    OpenID should be defacto standard and should be monetized
    Google should open a new social

  23. It’s funny how all of this data is our own and yet companies make billions off it. It’s like credit card companies that gather your name from public records then associate you with business transactions and then charges you money to access your own data.

    I’d like to live in a world where I control my graph and Media6 comes to me and asks ME to see my graph. And in a perfect world, if I have a huge graph or a very influentual one, I would be the one monitizing it rather than some 3rd party.

  24. It’s funny how all of this data is our own and yet companies make billions off it. It’s like credit card companies that gather your name from public records then associate you with business transactions and then charges you money to access your own data.

    I’d like to live in a world where I control my graph and Media6 comes to me and asks ME to see my graph. And in a perfect world, if I have a huge graph or a very influentual one, I would be the one monitizing it rather than some 3rd party.

  25. Mr. Scoble, I admire and appreciate you more or less posting your iterative thinking in real-time. I think this iteration is correct! :-)

    @rosiewosie: in the end it seems that people do generally (not necessarily you!) trade off issues of trust/privacy for high utility or need. If there is no utility and you don’t need to use the service the trust issues loom large, but if there’s i no utility and you don’t need to use the service, trust is probably not the biggest issue.

  26. Mr. Scoble, I admire and appreciate you more or less posting your iterative thinking in real-time. I think this iteration is correct! :-)

    @rosiewosie: in the end it seems that people do generally (not necessarily you!) trade off issues of trust/privacy for high utility or need. If there is no utility and you don’t need to use the service the trust issues loom large, but if there’s i no utility and you don’t need to use the service, trust is probably not the biggest issue.

  27. With the whole Beacon thing, my trust in Facebook just disappeared a little, well maybe more than just a little. Perhaps I’m the only one, but I doubt it. I understand what and why they are doing what they’re doing. But that doesn’t mean I agree.

  28. With the whole Beacon thing, my trust in Facebook just disappeared a little, well maybe more than just a little. Perhaps I’m the only one, but I doubt it. I understand what and why they are doing what they’re doing. But that doesn’t mean I agree.

  29. Robert,

    There is money in almost any kind of data… Sure there is a bit in who controls the social graph.

    That being said, Facebook cannot afford to allow ANY 3rd party company to create Facebook applications that export user data. Facebook created the development platform so that applications can reside inside Facebook, and outside of Facebook — not to export user data. Facebook is created a new set of APIs called Facebook Connect that will all users to export their data.

    Google needs to realize that Facebook wants to play nice with “data portability” — but they need to implement some new layers of privacy on the granular level, and make sure things are done correctly — Facebook Connect. The development platform was never intended as a “export feature” — which is what the user’s have come to expect.

    I’m sure if Google can wait for the proper APIs, Facebook will have no problem letting Google being an official partner with Google Friend Connect.

    Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Facebook.

  30. Robert,

    There is money in almost any kind of data… Sure there is a bit in who controls the social graph.

    That being said, Facebook cannot afford to allow ANY 3rd party company to create Facebook applications that export user data. Facebook created the development platform so that applications can reside inside Facebook, and outside of Facebook — not to export user data. Facebook is created a new set of APIs called Facebook Connect that will all users to export their data.

    Google needs to realize that Facebook wants to play nice with “data portability” — but they need to implement some new layers of privacy on the granular level, and make sure things are done correctly — Facebook Connect. The development platform was never intended as a “export feature” — which is what the user’s have come to expect.

    I’m sure if Google can wait for the proper APIs, Facebook will have no problem letting Google being an official partner with Google Friend Connect.

    Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Facebook.

  31. I should be able to seamlessly synch my social graph across any social network I want. It sucks that I can’t auto add all of my facebook contacts into my flickr account or my friendfeed account. It sucks equally that I can’t auto add all of my flickr contacts into my facebook or friendfeed account.

    And it definitely sucks that I can’t add all of my facebook contact’s email addresses into my gmail or Mac mail.

  32. I should be able to seamlessly synch my social graph across any social network I want. It sucks that I can’t auto add all of my facebook contacts into my flickr account or my friendfeed account. It sucks equally that I can’t auto add all of my flickr contacts into my facebook or friendfeed account.

    And it definitely sucks that I can’t add all of my facebook contact’s email addresses into my gmail or Mac mail.

  33. Chris: they already are. I hear Media6 is helping its clients identify people to put their banner ads in front of. Those ads are already seeing many times better results than the general population of ads.

  34. Chris: they already are. I hear Media6 is helping its clients identify people to put their banner ads in front of. Those ads are already seeing many times better results than the general population of ads.

  35. Data is the wholly grail. Building+Tracking+Tagging=Monetization. Peer reviews have been widely successful and social graph transaction/preference mapping will be 100x to anything a peer review can do. We have a modern day David and Goliath battle ready to ensue.

  36. Data is the wholly grail. Building+Tracking+Tagging=Monetization. Peer reviews have been widely successful and social graph transaction/preference mapping will be 100x to anything a peer review can do. We have a modern day David and Goliath battle ready to ensue.

  37. Nice post, I’ve heard rumblings about Media6 for awhile, wasn’t sure exactly what it was they did. I’m curious what, if any, response Facebook has to this.

  38. Nice post, I’ve heard rumblings about Media6 for awhile, wasn’t sure exactly what it was they did. I’m curious what, if any, response Facebook has to this.

  39. This is the truth. The problem is this: how do social networks make money off of this system without losing trust with users (see Beacon)?

  40. This is the truth. The problem is this: how do social networks make money off of this system without losing trust with users (see Beacon)?

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