20 February 2009

Your data is not your own

Facebook got the smackdown this week after they clarified their TOS (or was it TOU?) and declared that they own the data you upload and they will keep it in perpetuity, etc. It really didn't change what they had been doing (according to a law professor on NPR), but it had the appearance of menace. Another reason to hate the cloud.

Slashdot just reported on an astronomy project called Astrometry.net that uses Flickr's open API to catalogue and tag photos of the sky. It matches the photo's star patterns with patterns in its star charts and then tags the photos (with those neat popup Flickr tags) and adds them to its own library.

People don't seem to be up in arms about this instance, and it's a situation where sharing information results in an otherwise unachievable benefit for all. It would be nice if Facebook data could be used in such a manner studying social dynamics or psychometrics. This was done recently when the "25 Random Things About Me" meme on Facebook was shown to have the same propagation model as a biological virus. The data was gathered using a 3rd party, wetware API (i.e. a Slate writer requested information from his readers), so no personal information was harmed without full knowledge. Imagine what could be done in the hands of a non-evil sociologist.

[ posted by sstrader on 20 February 2009 at 2:52:24 PM in Science & Technology ]