The “whose data is it anyway” wars seem to have flared up again, judging by what’s going on with Google and Facebook over the data-sharing issue: Facebook has blocked Google’s new Google Connect feature from pulling your “social graph” data out of Facebook. But it’s not because Facebook recently launched a competing feature called Friend Connect, of course — why would you think that? No, it’s because Facebook is concerned about protecting your privacy.
As Mike Arrington notes in another post, this is a pretty flimsy argument at best. Facebook says that it’s worried that the information about you and your profile will somehow go astray during its journey through Google’s connect feature to some third-party site, and that you can’t disconnect that third-party site from within Facebook — which is true. But Google notes that it gives Google Connect users complete control over which sites see their info, so that isn’t a problem.
Robert Scoble has a post up that seems to argue that Facebook is right and Mike is wrong — a debate that continues in the comments on Arrington’s post — but to be honest I lost track of what Scoble’s argument actually was somewhere in there. To me it seems obvious that I should have the ability to move data that is attached to my profile (photos, phone numbers, addresses, emails, etc.) to some other site — in a way that didn’t involve screen-scraping.
If those sites were connected somehow so that the data could be updated in both places at once, so much the better. I don’t particularly care whether it’s Google’s OpenSocial or Google’s Connect, or Facebook’s Friend Connect, or whatever the hell MySpace’s thing is called — or whether it’s through some agreed-upon standard that everyone adheres to, like RSS or HTML. It seems obvious that while everyone is saying they want to be open, they still want to control my data. Umair Haque says it’s more proof that Facebook is fundamentally evil.