Mark Zuckerberg and his colleagues were apparently concerned enough about Vine, a video app from Twitter, that on the day it launched in January 2013, they moved to restrict its access to Facebook user data, a trove of internal Facebook emails released by the U.K. Parliament on Wednesday shows.
The decision to restrict Vine’s access to data, which would have allowed its users to invite their Facebook friends to join the app, was in line with a company policy at the time, Facebook told CNN on Wednesday. That policy restricted apps’ access to Facebook data when the company deemed that the apps “replicated” Facebook’s “core functionality.” In other word, apps that Facebook thought might compete with them.
“Twitter launched Vine today which lets you shoot multiple short video segments to make one single, 6-second video,” Facebook vice-president Justin Osofsky wrote to Zuckerberg and others the day Vine launched, according to the emails released by the UK Parliament.
“Unless anyone raises objections, we will shut down their friends API access today. We’ve prepared reactive PR,” Osofsky added.
“Yup, go for it,” Zuckerberg responded.
Facebook said Wednesday that Zuckerberg and his colleagues were only following Facebook’s policy protecting against competitors. But the company changed the policy on Tuesday, one day before the emails were released.
“As part of our ongoing review we have decided that we will remove this out of date policy so that our platform remains as open as possible. We think this is the right thing to do as platforms and technology develop and grow,” a Facebook spokesperson said Wednesday.
“We built our developer platform years ago to pave the way for innovation in social apps and services. At that time we made the decision to restrict apps built on top of our platform that replicated our core functionality,” the spokesperson said, adding, “These kind of restrictions are common across the tech industry with different platforms having their own variant including YouTube, Twitter, Snap and Apple.”
Vine, which allowed users to shoot and posts six second looped videos, shut down in 2017. Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Apparently responding to Wednesday’s revelations, Vine co-founder Rus Yusupov tweeted, “Competition sucks, right? No. It allows for products to improve, become available to more people, at lower costs. Strive to build new things that people want and influence other creators for the cycle to continue.”