Facebook Yanks Data From Yandex’s Mobile App, A Graph Search Competitor

By Justin Lafferty 

Thursday, Russian search engine Yandex released a mobile application, Wonder, that was something like Facebook’s graph search mixed with Siri. From an iPhone or iPod Touch, someone could ask Wonder, “What sushi restaurants do my friends like in San Francisco?” and it would come up with a list, based on their Facebook friends’ likes and check-ins. A few hours after the app went live, Facebook pulled its data from Wonder.

Yandex tried to skirt around legal trouble from Facebook by classifying Wonder more as a personal assistant, like Apple’s Siri, than as a competitor to graph search. However, that explanation wasn’t good enough for Facebook, which blocked Wonder from accessing its data shortly after launch.

Wonder takes Facebook data and organizes it into a mobile app, available by voice search. Many of the same queries that can be sent through graph search were available through Wonder. A user could ask  what nearby coffee shops their friends like, and Wonder would retrieve a list of the closest coffee shops their Facebook friends have checked into or liked, as well as show which friends were responsible for this activity. Much like graph search, Wonder users could see what their friends like, such as activities and music.

Facebook graph search (top image) and Wonder (bottom image):

Wonder also uses data from Foursquare, Instagram, Twitter, and Last.fm.

Yandex’s legal team sent a letter to TechCrunch, clarifying how Wonder differs from Facebook’s newest product, and isn’t running afoul of the social network’s terms:

We note that Yandex is not in violation of Facebook platform policies providing for restriction to use data obtained from Facebook in a search engine or directory for the reason that Wonder is not a search engine or a directory. Our application is a personal assistant that helps browse and organize information that is exclusively available to and associated with relevant accounts of the relevant user in various social networks and services.

Nevertheless, Facebook cut off access to personal data just three hours after Wonder launched Thursday morning. Facebook’s platform policy explicitly forbids a search engine using this kind of information without the company’s permission:

You must not include data obtained from us in any search engine or directory without our written permission.

Readers: What do you think is in the future for Wonder?