Importing other persons Facebook Friends list

Nov 29, 2011 at 3:42 PM

How can I easily import the Facebook Friends list/data belonging to someone other than myself?  I want to compare the Friends Lists of several other users that are not my own Facebook Friends.  The NodeXL Importer (and other similar products) will only import my own Friends list.  Is this possible?

Nov 30, 2011 at 1:35 AM

The Facebook importer isn't actually a part of NodeXL; it was created by a separate team.  Please post your question on their site, which you can find at http://socialnetimporter.codeplex.com/discussions.

I don't have the definite answer myself, but I will be surprised if it's anything but "no."

-- Tony

Coordinator
Nov 30, 2011 at 7:06 AM
As Tony suggests, the Social Network Importer only works with your own network, or the networks of people who have granted your their credentials (which they probably should not do). You might want to ask several people to collect their own networks and share that with you. Otherwise, Facebook's privacy and security structure is designed exactly so that only the user has access to their own account data (imagine being able to read anyone else's email, that would not be a very good feature!).

Regards,

Marc

marc@connectedaction.net
http://www.connectedaction.net
http://nodexl.codeplex.com
http://twitter.com/marc_smith
http://www.smrfoundation.org/



On Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 5:35 PM, tcap479 <notifications@codeplex.com> wrote:

From: tcap479

The Facebook importer isn't actually a part of NodeXL; it was created by a separate team. Please post your question on their site, which you can find at http://socialnetimporter.codeplex.com/discussions.

I don't have the definite answer myself, but I will be surprised if it's anything but "no."

-- Tony

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Nov 30, 2011 at 12:50 PM

Thank you for your responses.

Marc (and others reading this), I think you may have misinterpreted my goal.  I am not attempting to grab any information that any given Facebook (FB) user is not already sharing publicly.  Many (if not most) FB users share their list of FB Friends.  This "publicly" available list will provide, at a minimum, their FB Friends' name (profile name), URL to their FB page, and user photo.  This is the only data I'm looking to capture (Profile Name, URL to their FB page, and URL to their user photo); essentially, this is information I have already acquired simply by visiting that person's Friends list.  I am not looking into acquiring anything deemed surreptitious.  I am simply trying to find out how to import this information into a table (without having to go through the tedious work of copying/pasting each and every single URL from FB into Excel).

Using this info, I am able to create Excel tables that compare the list of FB friends for many users, which will help us to draw connections as to how certain people are connected (especially when any given two users are not direct Friends, but share certain Friends in common).

I've tried using the import feature in Excel and pointing it to a given FB user's Friends list URL, but Excel does not or cannot recognize the list of Friends as a table for converting.

Tony and Marc, per your suggestion, I will repost this message in the Social Network Imported Discussion board, but I will certainly appreciate any further advice or insight you may have.

Thanks again for your help.   And thank you for such a wonderful product!

Nov 30, 2011 at 2:42 PM

Hi there, 

I'd like to reinforce Marc's point. In order to comply faithfully with the Facebook terms of service, the Social Net Importer complies with all privacy controls put in place by the Facebook API. Other people have done as you say and simply scraped public friend data from the site. This is indeed technically possible. However, if you take the case of Robert Scoble (who had his account locked for doing this) or Pete Warden (who had Facebook's lawyers requesting he destroy his data), it is clear that Facebook a) provides an excellent means for accessing one's own data and b) is very clear that you should use the API and only the API to do this. 

Some reasons why this is important: 

1. If you have someone on limited profile, you still appear in their friendslist, but the API can't access this data. This is an important safeguard.

2. Accessing a friends list is trivial, but imagine you have a friend, Bob, he is friends with Alice and you are not. Bob's list is public and Alice's isn't. So, should we be allowed to see the friendship between Bob and Alice because Bob is public or not because Alice is private. It is better to err on the private side. This friendship doesn't simply belong to Bob, but to Bob and Alice, and iff both of them make it public it is public, and it ought to be private otherwise.

Now, if you are committed to this, get your friends to download their own networks, and then merge them, with a new vertex column called "My friends", or one new column "X's friends" for each new network. But go through your friends and get them to approve the app.

Bernie Hogan, Research Fellow and contributor to Social Net Importer.