In a move that could portend some serious consequences for other apps that use Facebook data in the future, Facebook has decided to cut off mobile communications service Voxer from being able to access Facebook's friend data, citing Voxer as a competing social network.
On Thursday, Voxer received an email from Facebook, saying that Facebook needed to speak to them regarding discuss possible violations of a section of the company’s terms of service, Voxer CEO Tom Katis told AllThingsD.
Here is the section in question:
"Competing social networks: (a) You may not use Facebook Platform to export user data into a competing social network without our permission; (b) Apps on Facebook may not integrate, link to, promote, distribute, or redirect to any app on any other competing social network," the policy says.
Voxer is a Walkie Talkie application for smartphones that lets users send instant audio, text and photo messages. So how does that make it a competitor to Facebook?
Well, earlier this week, Facebook began to roll out its free voice calling service to users in the United States, following a trial in Canada that began in early January.
Users are able to call their friends, as long as both users the have the latest version of Messenger for iOS. All they have to do is tap the “i” icon in the top right of the screen when messaging a friend and then tap “Free call.” The recipient of the call will get a push notification telling them who is calling. If the call is missed, the recipient will get a notification.
Calling an app that performs a similar service a "competing social network" might seem like a stretch tand meo you , but obviously Facebook has no interest in handing over its data to any company that it thinks competes with it on any level. Especially when if it does not think it is getting as much back,
Its hard to look at this move, and not think of some of the moves made by Twitter last year, including no longer allowing Tweets to be posted on LinkedIn, and updating its API to put more restrictions on third-party app developers. These are companies that need to make money, especially Facebook since it is now a public company and has investors to appease. They simply cannot go around giving away data for free.
There is no word on what other apps, if any, Facebook will also be cutting off for the same reason.
For his part, Katis does not seem to be too concerned about this move, saying that only around a third of people who sign up for Voxer even use their Facebook info, and that, ultimately, engagement for the service remains the same for those who use it and those who don't.
San Francisco-based Voxer has raisec $30 million from Institutional Venture Partners, Intel Capital and numerous angels including SV Angel, CrunchFund, Chris Dixon and Roger McNamee. Earlier this week, Voxer announced that it had launched on Android for the first time.
Facebook and Voxer could not be reached for comment. This news was first reported by AllThingsD on Friday.