Just An Online Minute... Facebook Penalizes Blogger For Scraping

Blogger Robert Scoble had a run-in with Facebook that resulted last night in his account being disabled. Scoble's offense, apparently was to attempt to use a new feature of Plaxo to gather names, e-mail addresses and birthdays of some of his 5,000 Facebook friends.

Some industry observers have said the matter signals a coming showdown about who owns information on social networking sites. But information on Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites has never been private. Scoble or any other Facebook members can amass a vast amount of data about their Facebook friends simply by reading the site, or cutting and pasting the information into another program, or even writing it down.

While it's easier to do so if you have 50 friends than 5,000, Scoble certainly appears to have had the ability to access all the data he wanted. Facebook might object to the technology Scoble used, but has no grounds to object to the principle of one member retrieving publicly available information about one of his friends.

Scoble says he's appealing Facebook's decision. Meantime, a group demanding his reinstatement has already formed on the site.



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