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What is Facebook's stance on data portability?

The latest wrinkle on the controversy over importing Facebook data into Plaxo is that Facebook has reinstated Robert Scoble's 5,000 friend account per the following email and caveat (in bold): Hi Robert,Facebook’s Terms of Use broadly prohibits the running of automated scripts on the site because they can be used to commit malicious attacks, send spam, and generally try to undermine the integrity of the site.
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Written by Dan Farber, Inactive on

The latest wrinkle on the controversy over importing Facebook data into Plaxo is that Facebook has reinstated Robert Scoble's 5,000 friend account per the following email and caveat (in bold):

Hi Robert,

Facebook’s Terms of Use broadly prohibits the running of automated scripts on the site because they can be used to commit malicious attacks, send spam, and generally try to undermine the integrity of the site. When our systems detect these types of scripts, they immediately disable the account of the user responsible as a preventative measure. This is what happened in your case – your automated script was exhibiting the same behavior as other malicious scripts that we have blocked before so your account was disabled.

Our standard process for handling cases when an account is disabled for security violations is to allow a user to appeal and remedy the situation. This is the process we have followed here. Since you contacted us and have agreed not to run the script again, we have reactivated your account. You should now be able to log in with your normal email and password. In the future, please refrain from running these types of scripts again.

Thanks,

Jerry User Operations Facebook

Facebook sidesteps Plaxo's attention grabbing taunt and litmus test of data portability by officially declaring the automated script in violation of it terms of service. It could be malicious code.

The question still remains as to Facebook's stance on what Mark Zuckerberg called a flaw in the service--allowing users to export their Facebook data to other services, not just applications.

It's more than just a corner case for users to want to take their list of contacts (friends attained through mutual agreement on Facebook) and import them to Plaxo, another service or even Outlook. The friends have the option of declining to join a new service. It's new territory and the rules haven't been written, but there is at least one basic rule--a users' friend list and some subset of the associated data in public profiles that doesn't get into unstable privacy zones should be owned by the user and portable. Perhaps Plaxo and Facebook could come to some agreement about how to balance portability and privacy and show the way to a more open social network.

More from Scoble at http://www.mogulus.com/robertscoble.

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