Users lose in Facebook's smear campaign against Google

Jared Newman, ITBusiness.Ca, May 13, 2011
Commentary by Stephen Downes

The interesting thing about the most recent Google-Facebook dust-up (an event that once again confirms that large corporations operate outside any sense of propriety or ethics) is that it shines a spotlight on Google's attempts to build a social graph for its members out of publicly available internet data. If you use Google, you can look at how it gathers this information to build your graph. For me, Google imports content from Blogger, YouTube, Flickr, and Google Reader. So the graph is pretty sparse. But if I used GMail, or if I ever told Google my Facebook or Twitter identity, a comprehensive and detailed graph could be built. Of course, Facebook says that (a) this is a violation of my privacy, which I interpret as nothing more than crocodile tears (Facebook concerned about my privacy? Puh-lease!) and (b) this is a violation of Facebook's terms of use. Which it may be. But a 'terms of use' is the starting point, not the final arbiter, in a discussion over what's allowed.
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