Talking tech since 2003

Twitter’s new six-second video sharing service, Vine, launched yesterday with the ability to locate friends using a couple of different methods: your iPhone’s address book, Twitter, search, and Facebook. The Facebook option, which worked yesterday when I tried out Vine initially, pulled your friend data from Facebook so you could see if your Facebook friends had a Vine account. I speak about the Facebook friend-finding feature in the past tense because, shortly after Vine’s release, Facebook blocked the app’s access to Facebook social graph data.

When you attempt to find Vine users with the Facebook option now, you receive an error box that says “Vine is not authorized to make this Facebook request.”

It’s another blow landed in the slapfight between Twitter and Facebook, two companies that seem to take turns blocking each other’s apps and services. Twitter kicked off the battle by blocking Instagram’s friend-finder from using Twitter. Facebook later disabled Twitter Card access for Instagram. Now, Facebook blocks Vine, and there are no signs that the social cold war going on between the two companies will fade out anytime soon.

It would make sense for Facebook to block Twitter apps if it sees Twitter as a competitor. I could live with that explanation. It would be poor for users, but it would be understandable. But Facebook isn’t coming out and saying that; instead, the company has pointed to its platform policies as the reason apps like Vine are being cut off; specifically, section I, item 10:

Reciprocity and Replicating core functionality: (a) Reciprocity: Facebook Platform enables developers to build personalized, social experiences via the Graph API and related APIs. If you use any Facebook APIs to build personalized or social experiences, you must also enable people to easily share their experiences back with people on Facebook. (b) Replicating core functionality: You may not use Facebook Platform to promote, or to export user data to, a product or service that replicates a core Facebook product or service without our permission.

It makes sense for Facebook to put rules like these into place. The company wants services and apps that use its data to share things back to Facebook. It doesn’t want to just give away a bunch of valuable data for free and not get anything in return. The problem with Facebook’s argument here is that Vine does allow you to share your video clips back to Facebook. Easily. And, since Vine is focused around short, edited video clips, I don’t believe it falls under the category of replicating a core Facebook feature, either. So we have a situation where Facebook is giving us an excuse that doesn’t quite add up.

A check for an updated Vine app in the App Store this afternoon proved unsuccessful. If Facebook has no plans to re-enable Vine’s Facebook access, I’m sure an update that removes the Facebook friend-finding feature will be on its way soon.


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