Facebook shuts off data tap to startup MessageMe app

Facebook slapped a "dislike" on startup MessageMe on Friday when it barred the app from accessing data from the social network.

Facebook cut off MessageMe's access to the social network's "Find Friends" functionality sometime on Friday, less than a week after the mobile messaging app was launched, according to TechCrunch.

messageme
The MessageMe app

Now, when you choose "Add Facebook Friends" from MessageMe's "Find & Add Friends" function, no friends from Facebook are loaded into the app and the "Add" button is blacked out.

MessageMe was launched March 9 and quickly zoomed to the number two spot on the social app popularity charts.

The app could be seen as a competitor to Facebook's Messenger app which, under Facebook's ground rules for using its API, legitimizes cutting off an offending app at the knees.

"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," the social network warns in its platform policy documentation.

Although its Messenger app has been around since 2011, it's only recently that Facebook has added functionality to the software in its perpetual quest to attract mobile eyeballs to its offerings.

For example, in January the social network added voice messaging to the app. Instead of sending a text message to a friend through the app, you can send short voice messages.

Protecting assets or unfriendly?

MessageMe is just the latest in a recent line of app makers blocked from accessing Facebook's API.

For instance, Vine—a Twitter competitor to Facebook's photo sharing app Instagram, for which the social network paid $1 billion—had its ability to add its users' Facebook friends to the software axed soon after its launch.

facebook messenger mobile
Facebook Messenger with voice support.

A Russian social search app called Wonder and a walkie-talkie type of messaging app, Voxer, have also received the praxis non grata treatment from Facebook.

By using Facebook data to partially drive its recommendations engine, Wonder might be seen by some as competing with the social network's Graph Search feature.

Voxer, too, might appear compete with Messenger's voice call capabilities.

Facebook isn't alone in swinging an iron fist when it comes to using its APIs. Twitter, too, is playing the API restrictions game.

The desire of companies to protect their turf is understandable. Competition may be good, but most companies can see no compelling reason why they should contribute to the success of their competitors by allowing them access to the company's data.

The problem with that logic is that "their data" isn't their data at all. It belongs to the members who gave it to the companies in the first place. If a member wants to share their friends with a new app they want to try—whether the curator of their data likes it or not—they should be allowed to do so.

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