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Apple-Facebook Controversy Over Ping Rooted in API Usage, Feature May Return


Earlier today, we reported on confusion surrounding the brief appearance of Facebook Connect functionality in iTunes 10's "Ping" social networking feature that initially appeared to allow users to find friends by checking their Facebook contacts. The feature quickly disappeared from Ping without explanation from Apple.

All Things Digital now follows up with a report claiming that the disappearance is due to Apple's unauthorized usage of the Facebook Connect application programming interfaces (APIs) after the two companies failed to reach a deal regarding access.

According to sources familiar with Facebook's platform, the social networking giant essentially denied Apple's Ping access to application programming interfaces that would allow it to search for an iTunes user's friends on Facebook who also had signed up for Ping.

Normally, this API access is open and does not require permission.

That is, unless some entity wants to access it a lot. In that case, Facebook requires an agreement for reasons primarily centered on protection of Facebook user data and, of course, infrastructure impact.

With 160 million iTunes users, that could mean a possibility of a lot of impact.

With the two companies unable to reach a deal over Ping's access to the APIs, Apple apparently deployed the functionality anyway, but it was quickly blocked by Facebook for violation of its terms of service. Apple then removed the non-functioning feature entirely.

According to the report, Facebook and Apple remain in discussions about bringing Facebook Connect connectivity to Ping, so it may make a reappearance at some point in the future.