LimeWire just announced that it’s been forced to disable its Facebook integration. The feature, which was introduced with the launch of LimeWire 5.2 at the end of July, enabled users to privately share files with their contacts after logging in with their Facebook credentials. The social networking site allegedly demanded a number of changes before eventually notifying LimeWire that it would disable the feature due to “policy violations.”
LimeWire’s VP of product management, Jason Herskowitz, called the dispute “unfortunate,” adding that the two companies have a common goal: to help their users to connect and share. Herskowitz also said that LimeWire will continue to offer private file-sharing functionality for users of Google Talk and other Jabber-based services. And he apparently couldn’t resist taking a stab at Facebook by noting that his company is looking forward to working with “a number of other open platforms and social networks.”
LimeWire is one of the oldest existing file-sharing clients, but the company has been doing a lot to reinvent itself as a social media company. Part of that process has been the introduction of social and private file-sharing functionality with the launch of LimeWire 5.0 a year ago. The client has since been offering an option to share files with users from various social platforms, including Google Talk and LiveJournal.
Sharing is facilitated within the client, which means that your Google Talk or LiveJournal contacts need to have LimeWire installed in order to swap files with you. LimeWire extended this functionality to Facebook in July, but has disabled after being notified by the site that the feature wouldn’t work anymore.
This isn’t the first time Facebook has taken a stance against file-sharing. Earlier this year, The Pirate Bay offered users the option to publish links to their favorite torrents on their Facebook profiles. Facebook quickly disabled this feature, arguing that its Terms of Service prohibits links to infringing content. The exact rationale for booting LimeWire off of Facebook, however, is unclear, since the implementation didn’t actually link users to content, only to other users. We reached out to Facebook about this, and the company’s Director of Policy Communications Barry Schnitt referred to “potential policy violations in LimeWire’s use of Facebook Connect” as the reason for the spat.
The whole controversy isn’t without irony: Facebook’s founders briefly operated their own file-sharing service dubbed Wirehog that allowed users to privately share files with their contacts much in the same way LimeWire did. Wirehog quickly became popular with college students looking for an alternative to services like Grokster and Kazaa, but the service was shut down in early 2006.