ScobleGate – Facebook Data Scandal

Robert Scoble was baited by Plaxo to do the unthinkable – go into Facebook late at night and take Facebook’s / his contacts. Robert reports this morning that Facebook shut him down. Then it was a massive conversation this morning on twitter and around the web. What really happened here?

Nick Carr writes what I think sums up the situation and Dare Obasanjo writes what I think is the right side of the argument.

The general consensus on twitter is that Robert was looking for publicity. I happen to agree with Mike Arrington he was baited by Plaxo or to quote Mike Arrington “Scoble was Plaxo’s lab rat”.

There is a good discussion going on twitter on this topic. If you want to see my opinion as it unfolded got to

My opinion: I believe that opening thing up is a good thing. Going around TOS overtly and under false pretense is bad for trust. Facebook is looking at either alienating Scoble or the entire developer community and advertisers who abide by the Terms of Service of Facebook.

Robert Scoble happened to be holding the smoking gun but Plaxo was the mastermind. Mike Arrington confirmed this on twitter and his blog post that Plaxo approached a select list of bloggers including Mike and Robert.


Author: John

Entrepreneur living in Palo Alto California and the Founder of SiliconANGLE Media

9 thoughts on “ScobleGate – Facebook Data Scandal”

  1. Yeah this is an interesting story unfolding. Beyond Scoble’s issues, it brings data ownership and privacy back into the spotlight.

  2. John

    My thoughts exactly. Should data be portable? yes. It’s *your* data.But that does not mean that Plaxo go all covert and break another company’s ToS (I wonder how they’d respond if the roles were reversed). I would never trust a company that did that.

    I do think that Scoble was a somewhat willing lab rat in this whole affair. The best thing that can happen? Instead of about a specific issue, it fosters greater acceleration of data portability standards.

  3. Robert Scoble is taking alot of heat on this one. This is classic Robert..He is known for sniffing in the spots that cause conversations. Well he hit the nerve here. I don’t think the realized how huge this was. It’s good to know how things got this going. Robert is not a bad guy for this because he was pushing the envelope on data portability. I think Plaxo made its point. Plaxo owes Scoble big time. He took bullets for them.

    Robert: have Plaxo fly you around the world 🙂 They owe you big.

    Plaxo: do your own dirty work.

  4. My initial reaction was, “Thou shalt not interfere with one’s use of one’s data” but then more information came rolling in, such as the “It’s ok if you use the FB framework”, which showed how they restricted (quite rightly?) data that the user hadn’t keyed in himself.
    Which is what brought up the point clearly for me: where does authorship come in?

    If I’ve keyed in a bunch of data, then I’m in a situation that’s measurably different from this one.
    And yet, in this situation, an individual might create something that is more than simply a heap.

    At what point does intellectual effort confer something like rights of ownership?
    I feel that authorship, as well defined as we can make it, might serve as the salient measure.

    This case opens up some nice edges!


    p.s. my last tweet on the subject was this: ” If I scrape “data” and derive “information”, I have added value, ergo __?__ . Does that defend me from “plagiarism” Y/N … fair use?”

  5. This issue highlights what is really going on – Facebook is clueless on how to protect their crown jewels -their data. Data provides the basis for innovation both on the user and advertisers side. It is clear that Plaxo did have a hand. If I were them I would have done it to. It’s a competitive land grab out there.

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