Facebook, Scoble and data portability
So if you’re on Techmeme or follow a few people on Twitter you probably know that Scoble’s account was deleted from Facebook for using an automated contact information script by Plaxo. Mike says that Plaxo’s wrong here by violating Facebook’s TOS and scraping data into their own system. Robert says (after being naively caught red-handed) that data should be free (he arrives late in the data portability game, but better late than never). Both of them have good points:
1) Plaxo was wrong in building a script that clearly goes against Facebook’s TOS. Despite the “good intentions” they might have by allowing their users to import data into Outlook from other systems, it’s still a clear violation.
2) Data should be free whenever possible and legal. If I’ve created content on a service and added value to it by doing so (posting photos on flickr, updating my status on twitter, videos on youtube or building my social graph on facebook), I should be able to get my data out. Not necessarily wipe it from the service itself (although that’s something I should be allowed) but at the very least export it in some meaningful format.
3) Facebook is wrong too for not allowing people to copy or move data out. It also feels a little odd that I can import GMail contacts into Facebook but can’t move anything out. People aren’t allowed to delete their facebook accounts either, so it does seem like once you’re in, you and your data are locked. Sometimes I wonder what facebook would be without mass.