Sunday, February 10, 2008

OpenSocial: Pros and Cons

Recently, there's been a lot of discussion about Google's OpenSocial API. Blogger and researcher danah boyd posted an interesting article on her blog describing some reasons why she believes making social network data more easily obtainable is not a good thing.
...There's a lot to be said for being "below the radar" when you're a marginalized person wanting to make change. Activists in repressive regimes always network below the radar before trying to go public en masse. I'm not looking forward to a world where their networking activities are exposed before they reach critical mass. Social technologies are super good for activists, but not if activists are going to constantly be exposed and have to figure out how to route around the innovators as well as the governments they are seeking to challenge...

Tim O'Reilly's blog describes an opposing view. In O'Reilly's opinion, opening up social graphs will eliminate the false sense of security many social network users have. Security-through-obscurity is never a good thing, and by showing people how their publicly posted data can be used, it's hoped that they learn to better protect their information.

Another blogger on privacy blog makes the point that
Relationship information is not the property of individuals - it held in joint custody among all parties in a relationship...

If someone that I've 'friended' wants to somehow use a social network (that I'm a part of) do they need to get my permission?

Open Social Web's Bill of Rights is a good start, but obviously this has no real legal weight and depends on companies voluntarily following it. These issues should be dealt with now, while the technologies are still being developed.

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