Scoble Finds Out Facebook Is the Jealous Sort

It Wants to Know Who You're Sharing Data With

By Published on .

Robert Scoble, he of many thousand friends on Facebook, was suspended from the social network after he used a new Plaxo feature to automatically export the contact info of his Facebook friends. Facebook has now let him back in, but only after the uber-blogger's brief hiatus created quite the stir in--where else?--the blogosphere.

This brings up an interesting question: Do you own your social network? Or does Facebook?

What happened in a nutshell: Facebook sent Scoble an e-mail explaining it had noticed a suspiciously high amount of activity on his account--the amount of activity only a script could produce--and asked him to describe his recent activity. Then it asked to confirm that he wouldn't "scrape or otherwise attempt to obtain in any manner information from our website except as permitted by our Terms of Use."

Ok, we get it, Facebook needs to assure its users that their data won't be harvested automatically and fall into the wrong hands. And, of course, for ad-selling reasons it would like you tethered to its site in as many ways possible--one of them being that your contacts' info resides there. And hey, Facebook can set its Terms of Service, right? If you don't agree, find another social network.

Regardless, it's hard not to agree with Scoble, who noted the irony "that you can import your Gmail address book into Facebook but you can't export back out."

Think this is over? Doubtful. Kara Swisher summed it up on AllThingsD: "Scoble has aimed perfectly at the Achilles' heel of Facebook--the testy issue of data portability and how much control you should have over your own information online."
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