Mike Isaac

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Yandex Halts Development of Discovery App After Facebook Snips Data Access

yandex_wonderRussian search giant Yandex has ceased development on Wonder, a social discovery application it launched in the U.S., after Facebook cut off the app’s access to the social network’s API data feed.

Yandex launched the app in beta form last week to U.S. users, but only hours after the app debuted, Facebook snipped Wonder’s access to the API.

“We discussed the issue with Facebook, and it was confirmed that Facebook views the application Wonder as something that violates the Facebook Platform Policies (section I.12) and that the access to Facebook’s Graph API will not be restored,” a Yandex spokesman told AllThingsD. “Since this access was revoked, we decided to put our application on hold for the time being.”

According to section I.12, outside sites and applications are not allowed to use Facebook’s Graph API if they are search engines or directories and don’t have Facebook’s express written consent. (Microsoft’s Bing, for instance, would fall into the “consensual partner” category.)

Why does an app like Wonder get shut off so fast? Well, for one thing, Wonder aims for the exact space Facebook looks to dominate in the coming years — social discovery. It’s essentially a voice-navigated social search application that lets users see the types of local businesses their friends have visited, the food they’ve eaten, the photos they’ve shot and the news and music content they’re taking in. That’s all valuable data to take from Facebook.

And with the recent Graph Search and updated Nearby mobile feature, it’s obvious that social discovery is one direction Facebook wants to dominate (much to the chagrin of others in the space, I’m sure, like Yelp and Foursquare).

Facebook tried issuing a statement last week detailing just why it shut down API access to Wonder so quickly, as well as other recent shutdowns of apps like Voxer and, separately, Twitter’s Vine app. But the company’s statement wasn’t entirely clear on which apps encroach on the social giant’s territory, or what specific factors make Facebook decide to go after some apps but not others.

What’s next for Yandex’s app? “We will be considering partnership opportunities with other social networks and services to offer our users a richer internet experience via Wonder.”

Good luck with that, guys.

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