Path App Unfriended By Facebook Due To Privacy Controversy
May 6, 2013

Path App Unfriended By Facebook Due To Privacy Controversy

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Finally, a privacy blunder Facebook isn't a part of.

The social networking giant has likely grown accustomed to answering for their ever-shifting privacy regulations and difficult to understand privacy settings. This weekend Facebook was able to stand on the winning side of a privacy scandal as they blocked Path from using their “Find Friends” feature.

The smaller Path social network faced some scrutiny last week when one blogger discovered that the app had emailed and sent texts to everyone in his contact list, asking them to join the service. Path also allows users to both login with their Facebook account and invite their friends to join the smaller social network. This "Find Friends" feature was noticed missing last Friday. One day later Facebook confirmed they had blocked access to the feature, though they did not say why they implemented this change.

According to TechCrunch, Path users are still able to login with their Facebook credentials and even cross post from Path to Facebook.

The social giant has locked this access to other social networks before, including messaging app MessageMe. Yet according to TechCrunch, Facebook regarded these blocked apps as competitors. Though they admitted to blocking Path´s access to the Find Friends API, they did not give a reason why, leading some to believe Facebook is sidestepping Path´s recent spamming controversy. Others have argued that Facebook does see Path as a competitor and have therefore blocked this access to prevent Path from gaining more momentum.

Stephen Kenwright, a blogger from the UK, noticed last week that he and his friends were receiving emails, texts and even phone calls from Path, asking them to sign up for the network to see some pictures he had supposedly posted. Kenwright says he never posted any pictures to Path in the half hour that he had the app installed on his Android device. Path has since claimed that they never place phone calls to invite people to their service. Kenwright agrees, saying UK land lines have a feature which transmits text to speech whenever anyone sends an SMS to a landline number. Since the blogger had landline phone numbers in his address book, Path tried to send SMS messages to these numbers, resulting in a call.

After Kenwright posted his blog, Path went on the offensive saying the texts, emails and Facebook requests were a feature, not a bug.

“Path is really best with friends and we really want to help users invite the people that they care about to their Path as quickly as possible,” said Nate Johnson, Path´s vice president of marketing in an emailed statement to The Verge last week. Johnson later admitted that the service shouldn´t have sent all those messages to Kenwright´s contacts after he deleted his account and the app from his phone. These messages are only meant to be delivered while that person has the app installed.

Path has defended their position even further, saying users must first opt-in to have their contact lists and Facebook friends contacted with invite requests. This opt-in procedure has also been criticized as some users noted that the app is set by default to send these messages. If a new user hurries through the sign-up process, they could miss this step and have their entire address book contacted with these messages.

The Find Friends feature is notably absent from the latest update to the Path app, released this weekend. Path has replaced Facebook with Gmail and Twitter integration, allowing new users to invite their friends from these platforms.

According to AppleInsider, it´s not yet clear if Path plans to send invites to Gmail and Twitter contacts in the same way they did with Facebook.