So you joined the social networking craze, perhaps our of the dread sense of being left behind as your offspring blasts away on myspace or perhaps because you’ve read all about networking sites like Facebook and Linked in. And you’ve probably collected lots of emails. So how much of that is “your” data v. the social networks’ data? Can you save it to your computer?
Answer: depends on the terms of service. For instance should you be able to extract your friends’ contact info out of Facebook? Blogger Robert Scoble, who tried to use a small script supplied by Plaxo to export out friends’ emails (all 5,000 of them). That’s a no-no according to Facebook’s terms of service, and the banned him.
This morning, everyone with a blog or videocamera felt the need to chime in, and so I’ll list a short sampling of the wide-ranging opinions. Robert‘s view is that he imported the data in, so he owns it. Facebook appears to see it as theft of content. Loren Feldman calls it insidious corporate espionage. John Furrier thinks Robert Scoble was used by Plaxo for free publicity. Michael Arrington smacks Plaxo. Nicholas Carr got it right in my view.
On one hand, Robert is absolutely right – Facebook doesn’t own my email address and other identifying info. But then again, does Robert own it? Nobody should except me, but practically speaking, Facebook can and will continue to do this. So why should you care if you’re not into silicon valley gossip? Here’s why:
1. If you have a kid on myspace, any demographic data they enter in is no longer under your control. Talk to them and make sure you know what they are sharing.
3. You now know we in silly valley make a mountain out of a hill of beans. 🙂