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Scoble, Facebook and scripting oh my...

Well, I've been following Scoble's tweets today and it would appear his Facebook account was shut down (disabled). facereviews makes the point that this is a good thing in the sense that we do want FB to monitor it's pages for scraping.

One of the many posters in this hale of twittiblogging (I think it was Ian Betteridge but I've lost the link) gives the following example: just because you post your email on your blog doesn't mean you'd allow others using it or adding it to their address book or doing something commercial with it (I'm paraphrasing from memory).

I have to say I disagree with this, if information is to be shared publicly then all uses of the public domain should be equally allowed or restricted. If I post my email on my blog (or indeed my phone number) it is primarily intended for those that have a genuine need for it. Nonetheless I also accept that I will have to shoulder the burden of added spam, lack of privacy, identity theft or whatever else might come of its existing in the public domain. In other words, I accept both good and evil uses of my publicly posted data.

In Scoble's example, while he is legitimately trying to recover his social data, as a side effect of this scrapping he will also grab data from those he has shared with. This data is in the public domain and its posting forms the expectation of a social contract. That is, those that post information to Facebook (myself included) are building a sort of social creative commons and we need to accept that sharing this data effectively means placing it in the public domain.

Like most things, this contract only works if the benefits of having the data flow both in and out of the social utility.

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Comments (2)

Perhaps public in the sense that I used it was a bad example, so let's try another one. Suppose I friend you on Facebook, because we're know each other a bit. There is an implicit relationship of trust there: I give you access to some information about me, and trust you not to abuse it.

Now, would that make it fine for you to take the email addresses of all your friends, and sell them on to a spammer?

Ethically, I think you'd be in the wrong - because you'd have broken the rules of trust that govern friend relationships.

I haven't "given" the information to you, or anyone with the expectation that you'll do anything that's possible with it. I've given you the information with the expectation that you'll act in a particular way with it - ie not abuse it by selling it, subscribing me to endless goat.se spam, or whatever.

It's the difference between use and abuse - and that's the interesting question which Scoble's case raises.

Openness is based on trust, and trust is based on the expectations that we have of what will happen when we share something with people. Is Scoble violating trust? If so, he's contributing to less openness - not more.

But what SquarePantsSpongeBob Scroble thinks is his data/social objects/identity ventors, it's not. The data belongs to no one except the system that GENERATES it. His input is merely instructions for an application to CREATE objects.

For a programmer, he's absurdly old skool. As a hacker, he's pretty dumb.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 3, 2008 3:43 PM.

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