Facebook vs its users: the lawsuit

Matt Bowman · May 5, 2010 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/f76

The EFF files brief combatting Facebook's prohibition against enlisting apps to log in.

Facebook wants to be the Web's personal directory. And it doesn't like competition.

The company prohibits users from enlisting third-party apps to log in to their profiles. It is so adamant about it that it filed suit against Power Ventures, a service that does just that to help users organize all of their social networking activity into one dashboard. Using Power's tool, friends' activities from Twitter, LinkedIn, Orkut and Hi5 can be viewed on a single screen.

Facebook claims that Power's tool violates criminal law because Facebook's terms of service ban users from accessing their information through "automatic means."

On Tuesday, the Electronic  Frontier Foundation came to Power's defense with an amicus brief arguing that users have a right to access their own data however they want, and that opening violations of terms of service to criminal prosecution would make millions of Facebook users vulnerable to prosecution.

The EFF's blog post is here and the amicus brief here (PDF).

The case, which seems to being flying under the radar of the tech blogosphere, has huge implications for the future of innovation in social networking. It's not hard to see how accessing Facebook data through third-party login would open the way for a huge amount of useful aggregation tools--just look at how many sites, Facebook included, let you "find friends" by logging into your digital address books. 

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