Robert Scoble is a fun act to follow. He looks at things and tries them out. He pushes and pulls and isn’t afraid to look silly for trying. He recently tried a script to export his friends from facebook into a Plaxo contacts list. Facebook promptly suspended his account!
Welcome to the club Robert. I was banned as well. My reason? I didn’t use my real name. When I joined (and I must say I really don’t get facebook at all. It seems a waste of time to me) it told me I had to use my real name, so what did I do? I used “My Real Name” as my user name. They didn’t like that apparently and thus banned me.
Here is the funny part — I guess it’s funny — they didn’t bother to tell me I was banned. I found out when I went there and tried to log in. I lost all three of my friends I had gained! Terrible.
Facebook is entirely free to set the terms of service it wants. It CAN require that you use your actual name (in retrospect when it said you had to use “your real name” I guess they were speaking other than literally. They CAN prohibit you from scraping data with an automated script like Robert was doing. That does not bother me, hey they own the system.
I have two issues however with facebook:
1. I would think it prudent of them to give some advance warning. They apparently did in Robert Scoble’s case, but they did not in mine. I was simply banned and gone. Even in his case, he was presumed guilty until proven innocent I guess you might say. They banned first and didn’t investigate before doing so.
2. They need a reasonable and fast way for you to reinstate if you are interested after committing a sin. In my case, my email address is apparently still banned and several emails saying okay, release my email so that I can register under my actual name have simply gone unanswered and tries to use the address over a period of time show it still banned (I have not tried it lately).
Obviously many people apparently do get facebook. Sure I like finding people I have lost touch with via facebook (something I do now on a new account registered under an unrelated email address — geez like who doesn’t have 103 email addresses anyway), but the method of conversation, this whole write on a wall things, it all seems disjointed to me.
My other and greater concern is with this whole concept of spending great time and resources putting information, contents, thoughts, contact lists, etc. on a third party site in their complete and unfettered control. Doing so causes me pause. There is a trend this way in business and personal things, but what to do for disaster recovery? I guess Robert will find out. In my case, I just said hi to my three friends the next time I saw them. If I cannot back it up, I don’t waste much time on it.