- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally approved a decision to block video app Vine’s access to data, according to a batch of leaked documents.
- The papers were published by British politician Damian Collins, who implied that Vine was targeted because it was Facebook a competitor.
- Vine was owned by Twitter and shut down in 2016. One of its cofounders recently announced he will be launching another looping video app in Spring 2019.
Mark Zuckerberg played a personal role in stamping on Facebook’s competitors, according to a trove of documents published by British Parliament.
The papers, published by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee on Wednesday, contained emails between Facebook execs about limiting Twitter’s now defunct looping video app Vine’s access to data.
The internal Facebook documents were seized in November from Six4Three, a company which is suing Facebook for allegedly killing its business, an app which looked for pictures of people’s Facebook friends in their swimwear.
An email, dated 24 January 2013 (the day Vine launched on iOS), contained statements attributed to Facebook Vice President Justin Osofsky and Zuckerberg.
“Twitter launched Vine today which lets you shoot multiple short video segments to make one single, 6-second video. As part of their NUX, you can find friends via FB. Unless anyone raises objections, we will shut down their friends API access today. We’ve prepared reactive PR, and I will let Jana know our decision.”
Zuckerberg responded: “Yup, go for it.”
Damian Collins, the UK lawmaker who published the documents, implied that Facebook restricted Vine’s access to data because it viewed Vine a competitor. He lists the email as evidence under the section: “Targeting competitor Apps.”
“The files show evidence of Facebook taking aggressive positions against apps, with the consequence that denying them access to data led to the failure of that business,” Collins notes in his summary of the key issues raised by the Facebook documents.
Vine was shut down in 2016, but one of its cofounders, Dom Hoffman, recently revealed he will be launching a new looping video app called Byte.
When Facebook did remove Vine’s access to Facebook friends in 2013, its public explanation as to why was found lacking by some.
In a statement at the time, Osofsky pointed to a part of Facebook’s policy, which allowed the firm to exclude apps that don’t provide users with “an easy way to share back to Facebook.” But as Wired pointed out at the time, Vine did allow users to share their videos on Facebook.
A Facebook spokesman attempted to discredit the documents published by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. He said they formed part of a “baseless” lawsuit and were “misleading without additional context.”
On Vine specifically, he added: “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. These kind of restrictions are common across the tech industry with different platforms having their own variant including YouTube, Twitter, Snap and Apple.
“We regularly review our policies to ensure they are both protecting people’s data and enabling useful services to be built on our platform for the benefit of the Facebook community. 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.”
Business Insider has contacted Vine cofounder Hoffman for comment.
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