(Scoble was apparently trying out a new Plaxo import feature that involves screen-scraping, according to this post from Mike Arrington at TechCrunch. I agree with Mike that Plaxo is to blame here just as much as Facebook).
It’s obvious why Facebook would have such a rule: scraping data using automatic scripts not only puts a load on the site’s servers, but gives potential competitors the ability to potentially suck out the entrails of the social network and move them somewhere else. The interesting part of this whole affair, of course, is that the entrails in question — the engine that makes Facebook such a hot property — are the contacts and information belonging to people like Scoble.
The bottom line, I think, is that Facebook should make it easier for people to move their data from Facebook to somewhere else without scraping the site using bot-scripts. Whether Scoble’s symbolic gesture will help to push them in that direction remains to be seen.
Update: As Ian Betteridge points out in a comment here, at least some of the data that the Scobleizer is scraping belongs to the 5,000 or so people who added him as a friend. Should they have a say in what he does with it?
And now Scoble has been reinstated by Facebook, and has gotten lots of publicity for himself and Plaxo — but hopefully he has also gotten people thinking about who owns our data, and how we use it.