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January 03, 2008

Facebook Bots Disabled Robert Scoble for Downloading Contacts, Brings Up Question - Do People Own Their Social Graphs?

Update: Facebook let Robert Scoble back in explaining that the script he ran looked similar to spam... Some commenters agreed that it is questionable to load your contacts from one application to another, many were just happy to have him back on Facebook.

I posted on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog about a day where everything went wrong. One of things that went wrong was that I was disabled from Facebook. I have to say that I did break the rules (oohhh, bad girl), but it was by accident (really). You see I always use the my online identity when signing up for social networking, instead of my real name. I did not even think twice when registering for Facebook that the rules are that ID's need to be "real names".  Maybe I would of realized that if I read the terms of use....

Although some may think that moms using Facebook is creepy, I use it as one of my social networking tools - and have many moms as my Facebook friends. I was allowed to create my Facebook account using TechMama but then I was "found" and "disabled".  In Facebook's credit, I emailed their customer service dept. admitting my mistake and that I was happy to convert my account to my real name. Facebook customer service must be up all night because by morning my Facebook profile was back, that is under my real name.

The Facebook bots were also busy this morning...TechMeme posted with links discussing that Robert Scoble was disabled from Facebook for running a script that downloaded his social contacts.  Techcrunch UK posted with details:

"Data portability from social networks is going to become a huge tech industry issue in the new year. Why? Because well known tech blogger Robert Scoble has had his Facebook account disabled after he tried to pull out his 5,000 contacts (known as a social graph) from the site."

Robert Scoble even joined DataPortability.org in protest. So why should Parents care about all of this? Because starting in highschool or younger kids are using Facebook and creating their own social graphs. In Facebook's defense, I may not be comfortable with anyone that I friended in Facebook downloading me as part of their social graph. So the debate rages on if social graphs are the property of the person that creates them - and should be portable? Or should they stay in the social networking application where it was created? And even better, what access should the social networking application companies have to our social graphs? Can they use them for commercial purposes? I posted about Facebook social ads and questioning if I want to know what products my Facebook friends are talking about. I decided yes,but only if they are talking about cute shoes or technology (call me a shoe geek).

It seems social networking is bringing a whole new debate on data privacy and ownership....


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