Earlier this week I had a phone call with a start-up company that was looking to launch a product to the conference industry. It was a service which enabled conference attendees to easily swap contact information. One of the first questions I asked was whether or not you can easily export contacts. I suggested that if I couldn’t export my contacts, the service was not going to succeed.
I found it ironic that I was preaching about contact portability but everyday I interact with Facebook who makes it impossible for me to export my contacts. When I’m writing an email there is no way for me to easily access my contacts’ email addresses and when I make a phone call the only way for me to access my contacts’ phone numbers is through the iPhone Facebook application.
Want to build an application that leverages your Facebook contacts for communication purposes? Unfortunately you can’t unless you are fine with using each individual’s Facebook ID as their unique identifier. What risk does Facebook have from letting users export their contacts? The most obvious risk is the potential for users to take those contacts to a competing service.
In reality though, if a user prefers one social network over another, the ability (or inability) to export from Facebook is not going to be a deal breaker. They are going to register no matter what. So for the love of God Facebook, please let me export my contacts! They are my contacts anyways and I only gave you access to that relationship. You weren’t the person that gave me access to that individual!
LinkedIn continues to grow and they let you export your contacts. Are there any other reasons you can think of that Facebook still locks in our contacts? Why on earth won’t they go ahead and let us export?