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Facebook gets unfriendly with Power.com*

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Power.com has hit a snag in its quest to build a business out of helping people access social networking sites.

As first reported by the New York Times today, Facebook this week filed a complaint in federal court in San Jose against the Brazilian start-up, alleging ‘irreparable and incalculable harm’ from copyright and trademark infringement, unlawful competition and violation of the computer fraud and abuse act.

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Here’s how Power.com works: Users provide their log-in information for social networks to Power.com, which then accesses those sites and allows its users to view the pages without visiting them. It used to work for Facebook, but Power.com removed that ability after Facebook complained.

Facebook objects to how Power.com has been soliciting the social networking giant’s users and storing its user names and passwords. It asked that Power.com instead use Facebook Connect, its own service for allowing users to access their friends from other sites.

‘After discussing the issue with Power.com for about a month without reaching a resolution, we filed a lawsuit to enforce our terms of service, maintain the integrity of our site and to assure our users’ privacy and security is protected,’ Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt said in a statement.

Power.com founder Steve Vachani tells us the dispute has been resolved and that Power.com will use Facebook Connect starting in late January. ‘We support mutual industry cooperation to help responsibly create a borderless Web,’ Vachani said in a statement. ‘Power.com is focused on providing value-added services to social network users, and it is not necessary for us to store the user’s name and password if a site prefers that we don’t.’

In fact, Power.com says it’s going to announce a new industry standard called ‘Social InterConnect’ that the company says will allow users to share their account information for any site with any other site without the host site storing the user name and password.

Power.com began publicizing its service in the United States late last year. It has raised money from some splashy backers including Powerset’s Barney Pell (his company was bought by Microsoft) and celeb technology analyst and cosmonaut-in-training Esther Dyson. Here’s a review of Power.com by TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington.

-- Jessica Guynn

Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page. Markham Johnson / AFP/Getty Images

* This post was updated with a link to the New York Times story.


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