Facebook Caught Plagiarizing Open Source Code in the Official iPhone App

One of the many nifty features present in the official Facebook app for iPhone is the “Pull to Refresh” functionality, which was pioneered by Tweetie. This UI (user interface) element is derived from the open source TTTableHeaderDragRefreshView class created by Enormogo. Unfortunately, it appears that Facebook was using third party open source code without proper attribution.

Obviously, folks at Enormogo weren’t pleased when they discovered the similarities between their code and Facebook’s implementation. Shaun from Enormogo wrote in a blog post, “To find out that they took our code, re-released it as their own, and take credit for it though? That’s not cool Facebook. Not cool at all”.

Before the daggers come out, it’s worth noting that this was most probably an honest mistake by Facebook. Here is the statement issued by David Recordon, the head of open source programs at Facebook:

Back in February a developer outside of Facebook sent a GitHub pull request which included this pull to refresh functionality. At the time we believed that the developer wrote the code themselves and thus didn’t realize that it actually came from Shaun’s open source library EGOTableViewPullRefresh. I’m sorry that we messed this one up. Three20 has over a dozen different contributors (http://github.com/facebook/three20/blob/master/AUTHORS) and we try really hard to give credit where it is due.

The required attribution has already been added by Facebook and will be committed to the GitHub soon.

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