You don't own your social graph (Or, how not to solve 0.0003% of the world's problems.)

So this morning's tech news is that one person got kicked off of Facebook.


But, since Techmeme is the geek water cooler, I guess we should all be talking about it.  I suppose Scoble is like Desperate Housewives or Grey's Anatomy--the shows aren't even that good, but you gotta watch because it seems everyone else is talking about it.

Today, Mr. Scoble got booted from Facebook for violating their terms of service... for running some kind of script that seems to scrape social graph data off of Facebook.

People seem to forget what "I agree to the Terms of Service" means.  If you join a service, and invite all your friends to it, contribute all sorts of data, etc., don't get all pissy when you break the rules and they boot you. 


Because these are the rules that everyone else agreed to as well.

If I was your friend, I wouldn't want you using some script to scrape my data and take it off Facebook.  People seem to forget that friendships are two way relationships...  those are people on the other end, not just data... and you don't own the data on the other people.  These are people that looked at the Facebook TOS (or should have), were fine with it, and decided to set up shop.  They don't want to live in a digital place where people who violate the TOS pulling their data run amuck.  Not that I think Scoble is malintentioned, but unless he gets every single one of his friends to accept the porting of their data to another place, I don't see what kind of case he his.  I don't remember anything in the "accept friend request" thing that says, "accept it when your friend wants to run a script that yanks data about you off of Facebook and brings it to some other place who's TOS you will never see."

Does the script take into consideration the privacy preferences of Scoble's friends, or does it assume they're all as public to everyone as they are to him, because he's logged in with his account?

When are the geeks going to realize that 99.99% of the world's population doesn't need or want data portability.  Sure, it would make our lives more convenient if my I could see the restaurants my friends frequent through their credit card purchase data, but rather than try and convince Mastercard to accept open data standards, build an app with a simple hack that allows me to download it, and moreover, a reason to.  That's what Mint and Wesabe are doing with financial data.

And as for the social networks, MOST people don't care about being on 3423 social networks at once with 43,000 friends, and sharing apps and data between these friends.

In fact, I can't think of a single situation where I thought to myself, "Boy, I'd really love to be able to listen to the music that my LinkedIn contacts do."

And I have no problem keeping professional contacts on LinkedIn and real friends on Facebook, and I'm unapologetic about it. 

Last time I checked, real life was about different social spheres.  My "real" social graph isn't a completely intermingled, open flow of data, nor do I want it to be.  My digital life works best not just when it improves my real life, but also reflects it.  I'm not friends with everyone.  I don't want everyone's data.  I don't want to show everyone else my data.  There's enough of me already out there with very little effort on my part. 

So, Mr. Scoble, please stay off Facebook if you plan on running scripts that the rest of us agreed weren't cool in the TOS.  If you think the TOS needs to be changed, tell us about the app, tell Facebook, and gather support without breaking the rules first.  While they've made mistakes in the past, Facebook seems pretty responsive to users when they gather a large amount of support.

Blogged with Flock