Reading some of the comments on the Robert Scoble v. FaceBook issue this morning, which centers on an issue of great importance for all of us. It seems FB suspended Scoble’s account because he was using a script to gather data from his account. FB’s IDS probably caught the activity and took automated action. But this is where it gets sticky. What is the purpose of banning the scraping of data from your own account?

I don’t see how it can be a violation of any reasonable TOS for a user to employ a script to gather the information stored in their own account, the same data that could be harvested with a pencil and paper. The only possible issue is the load on the servers, not data ownership. Who owns the “relationship data” that exists in my cell phone? T-Mobile? Samsung? Ridiculous! I own it. It doesn’t matter that I used the tools and services these companies provided to make new social connections. They were paid for the use of those tools for that very purpose.

If the system load is the issue, that is a valid concern. The burden is on the providers of the service to offer a way to export your data in a way that taxes the system minimally. If they can’t afford to do this in the context of a free service, perhaps they need to reexamine their business model.

I’ve been hacking on personal computers since 1982 and on electronic toys since I built my first AM radio as a boy (196?). That means two things: I’m old, and I know a thing or two about technology. But I must admit, I’m somewhat overwhelmed by the crop of youngsters who are growing up with a cell phone, iPod, and [insert latest hip social networking site] as their standard communication tools. I still can’t figure out how to use that damnable auto text mode on my phone. I am just now learning about sites like Twitter and Utterz, that use SMS technology to link the Web, Instant Messaging, and cell phones. Continue reading