When you agree to the terms-of-service of a social network site, don't be surprised when that site seeks to apply those policies to its members and to applications that operate within that environment. While a credible case can be made that a user should be able to export their own data - relation data (the data jointly shared between members) cannot be systematically harvested or shared without some level of consent or as defined by the terms-of-service. If Facebook, or any social network site, deems that a systematic method for its members to share and/or export information in a manner that circumvents the terms-of-service, that site is perfectly within its rights to act in a stewardship manner to enforce such terms and protect the confidentiality of that jointly owned data.
As I outlined in an earlier post re: "federated social networks" - there needs to be some type of an intermediary entity through which such systems operate at a relationship level (Google's FriendConnect exposed within Facebook's environment in this case). There is probably a good case for some type of content filtering to occur (perhaps based on microformats) that allow certain social network fragments (small data structures) to be be shared or exchanged with other parties.
Two points: (1) members need to adhere to the terms of service of the social network site they join and (2) relation data that is jointly owned needs to be shared/exported in a way that adheres to the terms of service and probably consistent with some type of consent model between the people that jointly own that relation data.
Privacy and openness go hand-in-hand – as we open up, we have to make sure that users always have control of their information, and understand how and where it’s being used. We’ve maintained that trusted environment while opening up Facebook Platform and the social graph to external developers by requiring third-party application developers to treat user information with the same respect we do. All Facebook Platform developers agree to the Developer Terms of Service, which strictly limit the collection, use, and redistribution of user information. We have technology and a team to ensure applications abide by those policies.
We’re excited that our industry partners are taking greater steps toward openness and enabling users to share their information around the web. We hope, though, that we can collectively find a model that allows users to share data while protecting the privacy of our users’ data and ensuring that the user is always in control.
In the past, when we found applications passing user data to another party (for instance, to ad networks for the purpose of targeting), we suspended those applications and worked with those developers to ensure they respect user privacy. Now that Google has launched Friend Connect, we’ve had a chance to evaluate the technology. We’ve found that it redistributes user information from Facebook to other developers without users’ knowledge, which doesn’t respect the privacy standards our users have come to expect and is a violation of our Terms of Service. Just as we’ve been forced to do for other applications that redistribute data in a way users might not expect or understand, we’ve had to suspend Friend Connect’s access to Facebook user information until it comes into compliance. We’ve reached out to Google several times about this issue, and hope to work with them to enable users to share their data exactly when and where they choose.