Facebook’s Need for Consistency in the Competition With Google

UPDATE: After removing everything in the description and any mention of competition, the ad mentioned here that I created was approved. However, there are still some issues of consistency that Facebook needs to get around. Maybe it’s just a communication issue? Read on…

When people such as Google and Twitter mention their inability to integrate with Facebook, I traditionally shake my head. Knowing people at all three companies, and being fairly close to Facebook, it’s just not the Facebook I know. After all, I see things such as Youtube integrate just fine with Facebook, but Google complains they can’t seem to integrate Facebook’s platform into Google. And Facebook currently allows users to automatically post to Twitter, so why can’t Twitter allow you to identify your Facebook friends on Twitter? It just hasn’t made sense. I always thought it was something Google or Twitter were doing wrong – maybe they weren’t following Facebook’s TOS or maybe they weren’t trying hard enough. However, lately after the publication of my book, Google+ For Dummies, I’m starting to understand the confusion. Facebook isn’t being consistent, or clear, in what they view as competition, and who can integrate with their network.

Just recently I tried to create an ad for my new book. Of course, the book is about Google+, which according to Mark Zuckerberg himself, is a “little version of Facebook”. It’s clear Facebook sees the competition. So it was no surprise to me that an ad I submitted that shared a book about Facebook’s new competition would get denied. What is surprising however is that they allow me to create a Facebook Page about the book, but don’t allow me in any way to promote that Page. There’s the consistency I’m talking about.

I mentioned the Youtube example. If you use Youtube you’ll notice the Facebook integration prevalent throughout the site. I’m sure Facebook sees great benefit to this – people love sharing videos, and Youtube is a great place to post videos. Yet, when other elements of Google try to integrate Facebook, they get denied with little reason for the denial. Ask Kevin Marks, Google’s former OpenSocial and Friend Connect (APIs for building Google apps) lead who tried to integrate Facebook Connect (as it was called at the time) with Google’s Friend Connect universal login. Facebook allowed Youtube’s Facebook integration, but denied that of Friend Connect, citing claims to the way they were accessing the API, and being unwilling to work with Google on the way they were accessing Facebook. Google eventually gave up. In fact, there was a time Facebook was supposedly, at least according to various claims on Google+, even blocking invites to Google+ in their news feed.

I thought some of these competitors of Facebook may have been blowing it out of proportion, until I talked to a few of them personally. I received pretty good information from close sources at Twitter that Facebook has actively blocked them when they have tried to integrate Facebook into their network in the past. So what? Facebook can integrate Twitter but Twitter can’t integrate Facebook? From what I’ve been told by employees at Twitter, it seems that way. I’ve heard the same from friends at Google.

Facebook has competition – you can’t blame them for wanting to block out the competition. I’ve heard some of their competitors say they’d do the same if they were in Facebook’s shoes. However, what I don’t get is the lack of consistency. If I can’t create ads to promote my Facebook Page promoting a book on Google+, I shouldn’t be allowed to create a Page about a book on Google+. If Google can’t access the Facebook API, Youtube shouldn’t either. If Facebook can integrate Twitter into their site, Twitter should be able to integrate Facebook into theirs. From a user perspective, I use all these networks for different reasons – to me they aren’t competitors, and I shouldn’t be forced to pick one or another. It’s an extremely confusing place to be when you’re actually a part of this inconsistent game. This is getting ridiculous.

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One thought on “Facebook’s Need for Consistency in the Competition With Google

  1. Part of the issue is that Facebook is presumably like any other company – a group of different mini-bureaucracies not united for a single purpose. The manager who wants to promote the creation of pages is probably marching to a different drummer than the manager who wants to ensure that advertisements meet some set of guidelines. 

    While my experience is primarily with long-established companies and government organizations, I imagine that the problems is even worse at startups that have seen tremendous growth. 

    The Safran Group (my employer) and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation have been around in some form or another for about a century (and your present employer has been around for longer than that). While there are certainly bureaucrats who are at differing purposes in those institutions (I could tell your stories, but I won't), at least those organizations have been around long enough to know that such problems can occur, and can implement instructions from the top commanding all the different departments to work together. (Whether the departments work together is another question entirely.)

    Facebook (and Twitter and Google) do not have this level of corporate experience. Companies that were run from dorms or individual cubicles just a few short years ago now employ hundreds or thousands of people. The institution might not even realize that it has an organization coordination problem yet. And at least some of the employees are used to calling their own shots, or at most having to coordinate things with their bosses alone. The person promoting use of Facebook pages might not even realize that he/she HAS to coordinate with Facebook's advertising policies, or vice versa…

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