See here

Tribe was one of the early SNs to support and produce FOAF. The founders left. An aggregator appeared that read that data and republished it. Tribe members got upset about their data appearing elsewhere on the web. The Tribe developers decided to deal with the storm by simply removing the code.

There are similarities here with Facebook. FB introduce the Activity Feed. They put in RSS. The RSS gets read, aggregated and republished. FB members kick up a storm about the perceived loss of privacy. FB kill the RSS.

My view on all this.
- It's hard to explain to members what exactly is happening. They're just beginning to understand RSS, but FOAF is confusing.

- If it's visible publicly in HTML, then it ought to be visible publicly in a more structured form.

- If it's not visible publicly in HTML you have to be very careful about what is exposed in structured form.

- You need to give members an opt out, some times at field level from having their data visible.

- Private data used by the individual concerned can leak out and become public. See here Private RSS feeds ending up being globally searchable in public readers.

- Getting the licenses right and enforcing them is hard. What does "re-publish" mean? We're happy with Google to index our pages and show abstracts and cached versions. But apparently we're not happy for an unknown site to index our contacts and profiles and show abstracts.

There's a polarisation here between Privacy denyers and Privacy Fanatics. One group relishes the exposure and actively uses the lack of privacy for personal branding and reputation development. The other wants to be able to participate in internet based services but remain effectively anonymous. Obviously there's shades of grey in the middle. But it's sad to see the second group forcing decisions that ultimately reduce the value of those services largely because they don't understand what's happening and had a mistaken view of how much privacy they had in the first place.

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[ 24-Mar-08 8:53am ] [ , , ]