Posts with tag "data ownership"

They just don’t get it

A contract is a contract. It’s been interesting watching the conversation going on around Scoble and his Facebook account being suspended because the Facebook cops bots caught him running a script that scraped his data from Facebook. I’ve already talked about the results and the effects it could have against Facebook; not to mention the bonuses for Robert once this all settles down and he’s back scribbling on his Facebook Wall – which we all know is going to happen.

What I do want to look at here though is the background noise that is going on in other blogs and comments.

It would appear from what Robert told Dave Winer in a phone call, about 30% of the people that he has talked to or have left comments are on the side of Facebook regarding his suspension. The majority according to him are on his side:

Scoble called a few minutes ago. I asked what the consensus was. He said it was about 70 percent in his favor, 30 percent in Facebook’s. I think we can win over the 30 percent by saying that there should be a system whereby people can decide how much information they want to share with Scoble, or people like Scoble, or me, or people like me, or BofA or the DEA, KGB or CIA. Further, that system is not Facebook, unless they change.

Dave himself in the post comes out in favor of Robert but he couches it all in some idea that Facebook secretly really wants to open up their network and that once they re-instate Roberts account and thing settle down they’ll make a big show of opening the floodgates of data. Now I’m not even going to touch that idea with a ten foot pole because of how off the wall it is but what I do wonder about after reading a bunch of comments and posts like Dave’s is this – what part of agreeing to a Terms of Service (TOS) do you folks not get?

Really … what part?

Because the fact is that the moment you agree to any TOS you are bound by contract law to all parts of that TOS. You can’t pick and choose which parts of it you want to agree with once you have signed on the dotted line; or clicked on an Accept button. You don’t like a contract don’t frikken sign the damn thing, you don’t like the rules of the game that Facebook has set out in its TOS – don’t use the frikken service. Don’t come whining and moaning about them suspending your account because you got caught breaking some part of the TOS that you don’t like.

I don’t care how self-important people like Scoble, Winer or anyone else of the early adopter crowd like to think that their opinions on how things should be the fact is you are breaking the law when you pull shit like Robert did and Facebook has every right to seek recompense if they so wish. Maybe instead of pontificating you should do some reading up on contract and tort law.

As for Dave’s supposition that those 30% of obviously dense people could be won over to his and Robert’s thinking I have a better suggestion. If you don’t like the rules that Facebook has set out and that you are required to agree to on joining don’t join and if you are a member run like hell in the other direction. sure that may not be as much fun as being a renegade and giving Facebook the finger but at least you won’t be breaking the law.

You don’t like a Terms of Service then don’t agree to it – have a frikken backbone instead of just wanting to be part of the cool crowd.

UPDATE: From Twitter

Scobleizer said at 1/3/2008 4:49:41 PM
Facebook turned on my account again.

Like we didn’t know that was going to happen….

Newsflash – Popping the Free bubble – people don’t care

Watch out for those bursting bubbles The big talking point that was obsessed over by the A-List glitterati during the news dead U.S. Thanksgiving long weekend was the call to arms by people like Dave Winer, Doc Searls and Jason Calacanis to force web companies like Facebook to give us back control over our data and if they don’t then it’s time to write our own rules.

On the other side of the argument are some equally smart bloggers like Tony Hung, Don Dodge and Duncan Riley who are suggesting that it really doesn’t matter because user’s outside of the blogging royalty couldn’t careless about what is being done with the data that is no longer theirs.

Sure in a utopian world where we all drink our daily dose of kum-by-ya we are the world and everything is free kool-aid this would be a non-issue as every web company would care about its users and treat them as partners in this brave new world of free stuff. Unfortunately we don’t live in such a world and such an event isn’t even on the horizon. The fact is every one of these web companies at the heart of this “lets fill up a dead news weekend with crap” issue are a business and the whole objective of business is to make money.

There is actually two points that this whole thing brings up and while the idea of our data as being controlled and being used as the foundations of billion dollar companies is a nice one to get the goodie two shoes crowd up in arms while they waited for their organic turkeys to cook it isn’t the only point of discussion.

The idea that we have any say in what is done with our data once it is in the hands of companies like Facebook is ridiculous. In fact the moment you click on that submit button on the last page of the signup form you have given away all those rights – read the damn terms of service and you will see that. That clicking of the button is your electronic signature – you have just signed a contract … you get a bunch of bullshit free services in exchange for the company being able to do whatever it wants with that data. It is now theirs and any subsequent updating of that data is also theirs.

I have maintained and written many times that companies like Facebook will have to pay the piper at some point for providing you with all these free things and the only currency they have is your data- well what was your’s. Individually that data may only be worth a few buck but collectively … well you can bet Zuckerman will be able to afford his own Dreamliner right alongside the Google boys.

You don’t like the ponzie deal you were offered you have one real alternative – stop using the damn service because the reality is that Facebook and their ilk might be forced to mouth a bunch of platitudes about data security and openness, but when push comes to shove the piper must be paid and nothing will change.

The second point of all this hot air discussion is do people – real people – really care what is done with this data to which Tony Hung quite rightly wrote:

The answer to all of the above questions is “Average Facebook users neither know, nor care about the intricacies and *importance* of owning, tending, and guarding, one’s personal data, information, and relationships — unless it directly and overtly impacts their own personal sense of privacy today.”

And Facebook knows it.

In fact, its billion dollar valuation hinges on it.

It hinges on the fact that somewhere deep inside Facebook, I am sure that marketers and venture capitalists are cooking up ways to milk the herd of all its worth without actually alerting the herd to what its doing.

You know, like that privacy thing about the news feed about a year ago.

Look we live in a world were people don’t even believe in global climate change, or they continue aimlessly on as their privacy is being slowly peeled away from them and the daily fight just to survive in a world where the middle class is disappearing is more important than what some faceless web company is doing with all that information pumping through their system.

The reality is that outside of the rarified world of the blogging elite no-one gives a damn and chances are they won’t. In the end this whole episode will disappear into the blogging ether by the end of the week (if that long) as new hot topics gain our attention and Facebook along with companies like them will keep on signing up new members by the thousands per day; if not by the hour and not one of them will care what is done with their data that they have signed away all rights to.

In the end it will be business as usual and the piper will be paid.