Robert Scoble vs Facebook (or Freedom of Information vs. Commercial Silo-ing)

The Robert Scoble vs. Facebook saga is me thinks a taste of some of what is to come in the year and even years ahead. Its the old silo-race rearing its ugly little head again. Basically Facebook is saying you’re allowed to use ‘your’ accounts information as long as you do so manually, sick thus their de-activation of Mr Scoble’s account after he used a bit of software to scrape his friends’ contact details. In the end they own the data and are a little bit jealous of it and there is the matter of the Facebook Terms and Conditions.

(The irony is that there are a few useful little odds and ends floating around that can do a whole lot more than get names and email addies from facebook, the last one I gave a test-drive did all of that plus mine out images and other media and went way beyond mining just facebook :-) the hard part is actually figuring out something useful and worth-the-effort to do with such data)

So of course there is a group to go join – Facebook re-open Robert Scoble account !!!!! :-)

This little drama might be an interesting one to watch in the next week or two, especially as an opportunity to see just how communicative one of the perceived front-runners in the social networking scene is. Will Facebook join the conversation or will sheer scale and the new corporate stakes define their actions?

For my part I hope they will take a more progressive approach than the quoted form email seems to suggest. I favor competition based on functionality and innovation over capitalizing on ownership, especially that of information. Sure, at the end of the day business is business – and let it also be said publicity is publicity – but the old cyber-punk in me demands the privilege of individuals being allowed to integrate their real-world identity and person with computational augmentation and extension to the extent of their ability and resources.

That said, if the issue is that the software, a beta version of Plaxo, that mr Scoble was using was badly written and/or placing problematic strain on Facebook’s infrastructure, by all means turn on the brakes, but a draconian nuking of his account seems a bit, uhm, old-world-ish doesn’t it?

The privacy panic angle might well be the main motivation of Facebooks’ actions. I doubt they have any philosophical qualms with what mr Scoble (and others by the way) has done, at least none that outweigh the fear of being accused on not honoring the trust users have placed in them to keep their personal information safe.

But… if you don’t want your information to be harvested, don’t broadcast it.

It really is a simple as all that. Down with the silos! :-)

2 thoughts on “Robert Scoble vs Facebook (or Freedom of Information vs. Commercial Silo-ing)

  1. Hi Andre

    Interesting read. I fear this snowball will grow and facebook will open up a pandora’s box of privacy issues…

    PS: nice work on the netverse

  2. This privacy thing you mention is exactly why this was stopped, imagine if you will the equivalent in a real world situation. You have a friend who comes around when you are asleep and digs in your rubbish bins, scratches around and scrapes up all your details from old statements you thoughtlessly threw out with the rubbish.

    Why on earth would someone do this? I do not see any good coming from it, do you? who would need to dig in your back yard or your bins for this data, name they should know and if they are indeed friends birthdate too! address most certainly and in RSA ID number? NO! the only reason you would need that is for fraud, ID or passport would only be for very bad criminal unethical reasons this guy could have had for scraping the data. fact is if you need this data and you build a facebook app you have full access anyway.

    I applaud them for looking out for those too stupid or ignorant too understand the implications of the privacy settings within facebook.

    Your online data is your virtual ‘self’ and just as you would not want someone pick pocketing your wallet you should not want them to take your online profile which for the ignorant is worth thousands of RANS/$ etc so be aware your property

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