It’s NOT Freedom of Information, It’s Protection of Information

3 01 2008

It’s pretty rare that I wholeheartedly agree with, or even care about, one side of a disconnected tech argument. This time I do.

If you haven’t followed it, today the argument is over Robert Scoble’s account suspension from Facebook for participating in a Plaxo test product that scrapes user information from Facebook.

Kara Swisher seems to agree that Robert Scoble is fighting for freedom and portability of information. I flatly disagree. Scoble also freely admits that he broke the Terms of Service.

Instead, I agree wholeheartedly with Michael Arrington and Loren Feldman (his video is quite good). Scoble wants to free YOUR information. Where there could be some disagreement is that I don’t necessarily think that Scoble has malicious intent. Gathering your rolodex to plan your next career/business move is not malicious. So if his account gets reinstated, I wouldn’t really care.

But go one step further and the entire system breaks down. Facebook then no longer has the potential of being a trustable silo of private and public information. No one will ever post their cell phone or primary e-mail addresses. Or remotely sensitive personal information.  Once that contract breaks down, then Facebook falls far from that $15 billion valuation.  You can’t make exceptions. That’s the reason why rules and terms exist. Plain and simple.

Facebook really got it right this time. There may be some business motivation, but they still got it right.  And that’s all that matters.

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