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Why Social Nets Should Set User Data Free

BoomTown writer Kara Swisher calls on new Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to set user data free--that is, to mandate data portability between Facebook and other Web sites. However, Facebook hardly looks ready to take down its walled garden, and the former Google exec is just a few weeks on the job, which means that a major directional shift is unlikely--anytime soon, at least.

That said, data portability has to be one of the main topics under consideration at Camp Facebook. As Swisher points out, the notion of user data rights may soon trickle into politics--and Sandberg, who was involved in the Clinton administration early in her career, will be keen to address the issue before it reaches Congress.

Meanwhile, companies like Google and Microsoft have been striking deals with social networks that allow users to move their social data between different services, but Swisher describes these efforts as tepid at best. The walled-garden approach to social networking takes the concept of social data right out of the user's hand.

"Like the appalling situation in instant messaging, where the key services do not work together because companies put their interests ahead of consumers' convenience, there should be an industry-wide standard to allow users to move a great deal, if not all, of their data among and between services of their choice." she says. Amen. Let us not have to rely on the government to make that happen.

Read the whole story at D: All Things Digital »

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