Last week I wrote about how Facebook blocked Voxer’s access to their API. Today Facebook clarified that their reason for doing this was because it replicated core Facebook functionality. This feature is the VoIP calling that Facebook added about a month ago, and to call that core is sort of a joke, but that’s not the point. So, Facebook copied Voxer’s business, which is legal, and then blocked Voxer’s access to its system on the basis that Voxer was replicating core Facebook functionality. What?
Then Twitter launched Vine, which Facebook blocked because it mirrors core facebook functionality. But that’s implying that vine is the same as uploading a video to Facebook, which isn’t the case at all from a user experience perspective. Vine is about short clips and it’s actually interesting.
So here’s the punchline and what Facebook is really saying: See this big treasure trove of data we call the Social Graph? You can take as much as you want until you get big enough that we consider you a threat, then we’ll clone your technology and cut off your access.
Is this legal? Yes. Is it fair? No, but that’s life. I’m not condemning Facebook, I’m only saying consistency is key when you’re evangelizing. I’d love to see Facebook have a clear and consistent message to developers about what is and what isn’t core functionality. This is eerily similar to Apple’s terms until Google Voice entered the fray.
Remember kids, Facebook is a business.