Updated: Facebook blocks Scoble for downloading his contacts, sparks revolt

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Data portability from social networks is going to become a huge tech industry issue in the new year. Why? Because well known tech blogger Robert Scoble has had his Facebook account disabled after he tried to pull out his 5,000 contacts (known as a social graph) from the site. This will fire the starting gun on all the debates about who owns your data on a social network, debates which – till now – have seemed rather theoretical, and could even lead to a revolt amongst some Facebook users. There is even now a Facebook group to get his account re-instated. Ché Scoble, anyone? Scoble ran an unnamed script over his account, breaking the site’s terms of use. As he says on his blog, he is appealing, and although he Twittered that will be taking the normal customer service route rather than contacting Facebook’s PR people, the storm that is brewing will not take long to reach Facebook’s most senior people. Scoble says he was using the script from an unnamed company since he is working with them to “move my social graph to other places and that isn’t allowable under Facebook’s terms of service.” Here’s the email he received from Facebook, which he has published on his blog. He now says he is joining Dataportability.org in protest.


Our systems indicate that you’ve been highly active on Facebook lately and viewing pages at a quick enough rate that we suspect you may be running an automated script. This kind of Activity would be a violation of our Terms of Use and potentially of federal and state laws.

As a result, your account has been disabled. Please reply to this email with a description of your recent activity on Facebook. In addition, please confirm with us that in the future you will not scrape or otherwise attempt to obtain in any manner information from our website except as permitted by our Terms of Use, and that you will immediately delete and not use in any manner any such information you may have previously obtained.

We reserve the right to take any appropriate action in connection with any activities that violate our Terms of Use and/or applicable laws, including termination of your account and pursuit of legal remedies.

Please reply to this email.

Thank you,
Facebook Customer Support

  • http://www.wilkinson.fr/richard/?p=105 Richard Wilkinson » Blog Archive » Can you hear the boom? That’s the Scoble effect…

    […] TechCrunch UK » Blog Archive » Facebook blocks Scoble for downloading his contacts […]

  • http://www.crowdstorm.co.uk Philip Wilkinson

    That is screwed – and one of the reasons why 2008 is the facebook backlash. Not only are they trying to make money from our social graph and connections but also telling us that we don’t own the relationship information – they do!

  • http://www.timbradshaw.net Tim Bradshaw

    If one were to run a script or something, and Facebook “terminated” your account, would that mean they deleted all the content you’ve ever posted? Maybe there’s a silver lining here for people wanting to de-facebook but don’t want to leave their data all over the place…..

  • http://scobleizer.com Robert Scoble

    Funny enough I’ve had several people who want to do the same thing I did so they can be totally deleted from Facebook.

  • http://www.technovia.co.uk Ian Betteridge

    So Robert, does this mean that you knew that you were likely to get dumped from Facebook by running this script?

    If so, isn’t this rather like when you got banned from Second Life for publicly letting your son use your SL account, despite knowing (and having been warned) that doing so would get you a ban?

    But either way, this raises interesting questions. Clearly, you should have the right to port any data that you put into a service out of it. But should you also have the right to take out data that your friends have allowed you access to, given that they’ve only really agreed to allow you access to it via Facebook?

  • http://towerone.com/2008/01/03/scoble-off-facebook-its-impossible-to-care/ Scoble off facebook - it’s impossible to care | towerone.com

    […] a brain the size of a planet? No so it seems for renowned tech blogger Robert Scoble. According to Techcrunch, he has just had his Facebook account suspended for running an unauthorised script designed to […]

  • Mike Butcher

    Hey check out the new “Ché Scoble” picture on the story (just a little fun…)

  • http://www.geoffwright.com Geoff

    For anybody interested in this I would recommend they Google “APML” and have a read.

    This is in specific reference to: “Clearly, you should have the right to port any data that you put into a service out of it. But should you also have the right to take out data that your friends have allowed you access to, given that they’ve only really agreed to allow you access to it via Facebook?”

  • http://blendingthemix.com/2008/01/03/facebook-is-closing-down/ blending the mix » Blog Archive » Facebook is closing down

    […] blogosphere is awash with commentary and articles about the debacle and I am doing my bit to add to the furore. I hope you find this article as […]

  • http://blog.nsyght.com Geoffrey McCaleb

    Facebook needs to realize that by allowing data portability, you are not limiting or marginalizing your uniqueness in the eyes of the user. Robert has talked long and hard about his love of FB, and his wish he could even have more friends on FB.

    Facebook needs to open their eyes to oauth like Magnolia and other authors of the standard (twitter, jaiku, pownce, and others).

  • http://blog.nsyght.com Geoffrey McCaleb

    …and of course microformats like digg, twitter, pownce, last.fm and a bevy of others support. :)

  • Grant

    Mr Scoble, knew it was wrong to scrape, so why the revolt?

    hmmm let me guess:
    1. He’s leaving his current job on Jan 15th.
    2. He knows how to drum up some publicity
    3. He knows its against facebook tos…

    The way the current state of play is Facebook is the big boy on the block (In western market anyway)and no one can touch them.

    Its a tricky catch 22 situation, people won’t go to competitors until they gain critical mass, so the only way that things will change is if someone sparks a major protest to turn the tide against facebook.

    The only conclusion I can draw is ……
    Tell me Mr Scoble, are you going to be buying/working for INSERT NAME OF OPEN SOCIAL NETWORK.

    My bets on Michael Robertson+ Scoble+ xx= New social network.

  • http://blendingthemix.com Paul Fabretti

    So Open Social ISN’T such a bad idea then…

  • http://scobleizer.com Robert Scoble

    Grant: I am not going to comment on what I’m doing next until January 16th. It’s not a social network like what you think, though.

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work/2008/01/03/facebook-whose-data-is-it-anyway/ Facebook: Whose data is it anyway? - - mathewingram.com/work

    […] terms of use that he has since broken, but there’s no question that the information itself should belong to Scoble (and the rest of us). So what rights should he have when it comes to removing that data from a site […]

  • http://blog.bima.co.uk/scoble-kicked-off-facebook/ BIMA Blog » Scoble opens up debate about walled gardens after being booted by Facebook

    […] picked up from TechCrunch this morning that Robert Scoble, one of the most influential bloggers in the world, has been banned […]

  • http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/03/scoble-blocked-from-facebook/ Scoble blocked from Facebook

    […] Update II: Ironically there is now a Facebook group supporting his re-instatement. And if you’d like to see what Scoble would look like as a revolutionary, check this out. […]

  • http://www.RockVideos.US Rocky Barbanica

    VIVA la Revolution!
    You can’t hold Scoble down- what are you thinking? :-)

  • http://www.phillprice.com Phill

    May I suggest you add a big gap between (and possibly a random length) each contact download next time?

  • http://normob.blogspot.com HeavyLight

    Love the Ché Scoble graphic!
    Now, what ever happened to Ché?

  • http://jp.techcrunch.com/archives/scoble-blocked-from-facebook/ TechCrunch Japanese アーカイブ » 著名ブロガーのスコーブル、Facebookからブロックさる

    […] Update II: 皮肉なことにスコーブル復活を支援するFacebookグループが結成された。革命家・スコーブルの想像図が見たい人はこちらも要チェックだ。 […]

  • http://sedanofmammals.com/?p=3 I’ll Take My Profile To Go at sedanofmammals.com

    […] TechCrunch: Data portability from social networks is going to become a huge tech industry issue in the new […]

  • http://blogstring.com/2008/01/03/ill-take-my-profile-to-go/ I’ll Take My Profile To Go » blogstring.com

    […] TechCrunch: Data portability from social networks is going to become a huge tech industry issue in the new […]

  • http://www.magpie.net Giles PALMER

    My money is on Facebook making an apology and saying that our data is our data not theirs – the alternative is suicide for them. It’s amazing how quickly a cool startup can become a mistrusted monster….

  • http://www.geoffwright.com Geoff

    Giles, it took only as long as it did for you to write those words : )

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