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

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