Time to write our own rules

So I’ve been reading Dave Winer, Ethan Zuckerman, Jeff Jarvis, David Wienberger and Wendy Seltzer, all of whom have problems with what Facebook is doing with its members’ data.

Dave in particular is looking for action:

There are thorny issues here, but we want these companies to give up control of our information, and we don’t want them to be overly scared of public opinion as they do it.

And this is hardly the most important giving up of control. Most important, I want them to give me control of my data.

MoveOn.org, in a move far afield from their original mission, has created a petition for us to sign. It reads, “Facebook must respect my privacy. They should not tell my friends what I buy on other sites–or let companies use my name to endorse their products–without my explicit permission.”

At this point the voice of Jim Morrison rises from my subconscious, announcing the opening stanza from Soft Parade in the homiletic voice of a preacher from a pulpit:

When I was back there in seminary school
There was a person there
Who put forth the proposition
That you can petition the Lord with prayer
Petition the lord with prayer
Petition the lord with prayer
You cannot petition the lord with prayer!

Morrison screams that last line, in manner later perfected by the also-late Sam Kinison. My own version: Stop petitioning Facebook and Google to solve our problems for us. They’re not creating those problems alone. We’re been allowing them to create those problems in the first place, and we’ve been doing that for too long. Time to come up with some new rules of engagement — ones that work for us as well as them.

Dave, Scott Rafer and others rightly call on MoveOn.org to get back to its original mission and stay out of tech territory. But MoveOn has something right in its last four words: without my explicit permission. Question: How do we exercise that permission? By what protocols? What tools? What policies? What agreements?

Dave provides the answer:

So before we overly politicize the leading edge of technology, let’s get together on what actually does and doesn’t serve the user’s interest.

I want Netflix and Yahoo to give me an XML version of my movie ratings, for me to decide what to do with. I’ve been asking for this for a couple of years, I still don’t have it. This is information I created. I want to keep a copy. I want to make sure that Netflix knows about all my Yahoo ratings and vice versa. I’d like to give a copy to Facebook (assuming they agree to not disclose it) and maybe to Amazon, so they can recommend products I might want to purchase (again keeping it to themselves). I want to begin a negotiation with various vendors, where I give them something of value, and they give me back something of value. Permalink to this paragraph

The leaders of Silicon Valley begrudgingly gave up their view of us as couch potatoes, now they think of us as generators of content they can put ads on (and pay us nothing). We still need to work on that respect thing.

The boldface in the first paragraph is mine. Because that’s what we need to do. It’s not enough to petition the likes of Facebook to give us our data. We need to create the rules by which our data can be used. When we sign on as “members” of some company’s “social network”, they need to sign our terms as well. From the start.

For too long we’ve lived with “relationship management” that’s asymmetrical and one-way. Creating the grounds for symmetrical relationships cannot be the job of Facebook, Google, Microsoft or any big company. They can’t do it, and they won’t. We can’t petition those lords with prayer, blogs, or anything else. (Well, we can, but it won’t be enough.)

We need to create our own new rules — ones that protect our privacy while making us better members of the social and business systems we create together. I say “better” because that’s what we’re bound to be when we cease being eyeballs and start acting like whole human beings.

This very topic, by the way, is at the heart of VRM.

By the way, a great place to start doing the work Dave calls for here is the Internet Identity Workshop in Mountain View, the week after next. These workshops are among the most constructive (un)conferences I’ve ever been to, and I’m not just saying that because I’m one of the organizers. Good work always happens there, in three days of serious barn-raising.

Look forward to seeing some of ya’ll there.

85 responses to “Time to write our own rules”

  1. Great message, Doc. I’m wondering if this would work – just like we host ‘privacy policies’ on our websites and blogs, could we host a ‘Terms of Engagement’ policy – and then at the time of registration with any web service, make it (or at least mention that it is) conditional upon our participation that the WEB SERVICE accepts our ‘ToE’ statement?

    And then, a logical next step would be a tool or service that generates user-customizable ‘ToE’ statements which can then be hosted on our websites or somewhere on our profile at various services we use.

    Would it work? Be enforceable? Legal?

    I don’t know, but if it would work, it’s a nice idea for the future.

    All success

  2. Right on, Doc!

    I completely agree that we’ve built ourselves some one-way streets. Virtually every aspect of consumer facing business today is assymetric and disrespectful in its function; polite CSRs notwithstanding.

    We, the people, though, have the skill, the (open source) tools, and maybe enough pockets of leadership to create the next rev and to structure it right.

    And I think that as people become more disenchanted with being ignored, especially over the next election cycle… we’ll see more people taking the risk, investing time to create the world they want, and developing pieces of what you describe.

    Personally, I’m excited about the possibility.


  3. I think the first thing than needs to be done is data collection that will live in one place and not scattered in blogs.

    Phase one – create a list with all the rules of “good behavior” of an online service that demands registration.

    Phase two – compare each service to the list of rules so one might be able to compare services and know what to expect.

    Here’s my contribution to the list.

    Rule – An online service that demands registration in order to use it must allow the user to delete all her information.

    Fact – Facebook can only allow a user to deactivate her account.

  4. I’m a very light user of Facebook and wouldn’t use it at all if it wasn’t for the Gillmor Group.

    The main problem I have with Facebook (apart from their not having – as far as I can tell – an open POP3 server where I can pick up messages (emails) using the reader of my choice) is that their Privacy settings seem remarkably complex and difficult to understand. I just can’t work out what it is I’m supposed to click to protect my privacy in the way that I want it protected.

    Call me a conspiracist, but I can’t believe this is an accident.

  5. It appears to me that web companies (like Facebook) pay attention and credence to entities in a top-down hierarchy:

    1. The officers of the company
    2. The major investors in the company (large-block shareholders in the case of public companies)
    3. The source of revenues (advertisers or paying customers)
    4. Company employees
    5. Users of the service

    The people using Facebook are not paying customers (and in fact have said quite forcefully that they will not pay to use the service) and therefore can have influence only if they can somehow impact (or appear to be able to impact) one of the higher-level tiers in the hierarchy.

    Saying to Facebook, “I’ll only sign up if you agree to my terms” will be ignored unless so many people refuse that advertisers or investors get nervous. As long as the pool of potential users is large and the user base is growing, Facebook will continue to be able to make their own rules.

  6. […] Doc Searls: Time to write our own rules […]

  7. Hey, Roland. Great seeing you here.

    Your analysis is correct, which is why I think it’s a waste of time at this point to build VRM (vendor relationship management) around the Facebook (or any large company) example. We need to start with creating tools for independence and engagement that equip users first, and then help interested companies adapt to the fact of increasingly empowered customers in the marketplace.

  8. Meh, it’s an ok band-aid. Sorry to be so blunt, but you have it all backwards. Fixing the companies is just a band-aid, what needs to be fixed is the paradigm itself. There will never be total data privacy until the users themselves actually own their own data. Users will never own their own data until we move to a decentralized, user-owned social network.

  9. […] Doc Searls does a good job outlining the recent issues of privacy and data ownership that Facebook has gooten bloggers up in arms about. […]

  10. Jason, nothing I said above excludes what you said in your last sentence.

    FWIW, I’m not trying to fix Facebook, or any one company. I am putting forward an approach to fixing what doesn’t work in markets by starting with users, with customers, rather than with vendors.

    This approach, if it works, addresses far more than social networks alone.

  11. Absolutely well put as usual. This challenge is vitally important to the next stage of online social networking, both in commercial, social and governmental worlds.

    I am reminded of Étienne de la Boétie and his Discourse of Voluntary Servitude. If we just find a way to manage our personal data, and then control the access of sites like Facebook, Budget Car Rentals and .gov ;-), then eventually the acceptance of this approach will become a source of competitive advantage among organisations we connect with.

  12. I’m too old to get it I guess, but I’m thinking that part of the problem is our overwhelming and seemingly endless desire to make every detail of our lives public. As long as we deem it that important to publish each and every fart we loose, I don’t think that even the most well designed gas containment system is going to control the odor.

    Certainly there is great value in social networking, but just as I wouldn’t share every detail of my lives with everyone who works in my building, it is my responsibility to decide what I should publish in an arena where the expectation of privacy is nil.

    And on the internet, the expectation of privacy is functionally nil.

  13. Awesome Doc, I’m with you there. This harvesting of information is not going to stop and services like 23andme are pushing the boundaries further. My opinion is that they way to stop this is to provide a better source of information for marketers and make it available, scalable, but most importantly, under complete control of the information owner. Here’s my contribution:

    “Dear data-hungry marketers,

    I can see how starved you are of information about me. You mine my customer-loyalty data, capture my search terms, yearn after my click data. You would be slavering over my bank and credit-card transactions and fighting over my purchasing history. I’m not quite sure what to lengths you’d go to get your hands on my anticipated wants and needs.

    Being the optimist that I am, I dream of a day when marketing actually gets it right and offers me exactly what I need, maybe even before I need it. In the spirit of openness and cooperation, you will find here (http://www.realtea.net/too_much_info) some useful information about me that may help that process along a little.


    The problem is that such an approach is far from scalable in today’s model whatever Facebook is attempting. I am now working on a way to scale this further such that individuals will be able to regain control of their information and their privacy.

  14. […] yet open in respect to the way “things should be(tm)”. It was no suprise then that this article by the brain behind the keyboard resonated with […]

  15. […] out in force against the opt-in lunacy that is Facebook Beacon. Or, so it would seem, anyway, with Doc Searls, Dave Winer, and Jason Calacanis (and a few others) making some good ol’ impassioned pleas To […]

  16. Doc: interesting concepts. I am thinking about this in terms of control, power and profit. If Facebook can’t control some amount of data, what power will they have, and how will they profit? The example of exporting Netflix data is interesting. It makes a lot of sense on all sides; but there are two aspects of this I am still working through:

    1. How stable can any of these businesses be if there are no boundaries? Are we viewing companies (businesses intended to make profit) as public services? If so, how will this affect innovation and the overall landscape by which we use these tools?

    2. How many “users” will really put any kind of effort into this. For instance, I have been told time and time again that I should customize my Google homepage, or similar service. But, I simply don’t want to bother. On the other hand, my Amazon homepage is automatically customized. As “super-users” of the web (eg: you) wrestle with these issues, how will they trickle down to behaviors that the average web user will use?

    Have a nice evening.

  17. […] Doc Searls gives a great recap of reactions from across the web, and asks for a solution: “We need to create our own new rules — ones that protect our privacy while making us better members of the social and business systems we create together. I say “better” because that’s what we’re bound to be when we cease being eyeballs and start acting like whole human beings.” […]

  18. […] Searls says it is time to create a symmetrical relationship between users and vendors. Amen to that! Now we need to start explaining the benefits of that to […]

  19. hmmmm – i hear ya but i think one of the aspects of gathering info is as i learned from product manager of british telecom working with BBC and others in europe and cisco or is it sun i forget at last years jeff pulvers VON, video on the net in boston 2006 were exploring nonLinear advertising – where they could tailor advertising to what they know about you (data mining) – not only what your age group was and where you came from but what you bought and interests were etc – and lets say if you are a kid with A.D.D and coming from a kids web site they would feed you a 15 sec ad if you were older they would feed you at 30 to 60 second add that would be made on the fly from 15 sec components – i haven’t seen this yet but its a year later – but it should be hard to spot anyway – so the positive side is they know enough about you to give you what you might actually want or be interested in – the negative side – hmmmm – there is an israeli company called puddin or something like that, that proposes to listen in to your telephone conversation much in the way google gmail reads your email for key words and then feeds you adsense – but this from your telephone conversation??? how do you like – and then there is big brother – or like Einstein regretted most in his life was endorsing the atom research which he thought would be used for good – and so and hmmm – shades of george orwell and big brother – the reality is that we call this a democracy but its more like a gang-oh-cracy or IdiotCracy and we are the idiot – do we really believe governments, and big biz care about us – and did they ever care about us or did we just convince ourselves – we are niave – where big biz is the king government is the queen and media and religion are the mistress – so i have this theory for this documentary i am working on called “who’s wearing the emperor’s new clothes” that we are only pretending to be zombies and that we are all aware of what is going on its just that we are afraid of not belonging and go along to get along – food for thought

    geo (at) diarRHETORICS.com or geo geller on face book where you can read more about me then i even know 🙂 and i wrote it

  20. facebook just posted thier new terms of service with this reference – which says basically as far as i understand when you withdraw your content they can archive it but it reverts back to you – i wonder how that works if they use something in their advertising and you remove it in mid stream – hmmm
    well this section got my attention

    >When you post User Content to the Site, you authorize and direct us to make such copies thereof as we deem necessary in order to facilitate the posting and storage of the User Content on the Site. By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content. Facebook does not assert any ownership over your User Content; rather, as between us and you, subject to the rights granted to us in these Terms, you retain full ownership of all of your User Content and any intellectual property rights or other proprietary rights associated with your User Content.

    food for thought

    still got lots of bumps in the road – what are the trade offs


  21. For what it’s worth, here is a list of my blog posts related to the topic “personal data ownership” that goes back to early 2005:


    Clearly there is more to be concerned about here than Facebook and other social networks’ behaviors.

  22. […] eloquent Doc wrote: For too long we’ve lived with “relationship management” that’s asymmetrical and one-way. […]

  23. […] Time to write our own rules | Doc Searls For too long we’ve lived with “relationship management” that’s asymmetrical and one-way. Creating the grounds for symmetrical relationships cannot be the job of any big company. (tags: VRM privacy facebook beacon docsearls identity) permalink | if (typeof window.Delicious == “undefined”) window.Delicious = {}; Delicious.BLOGBADGE_DEFAULT_CLASS = ‘delicious-blogbadge-line’; |categories: All other | Time posted: 11:22 pm on Sunday, November 25th, 2007 […]

  24. […] Doc Searls, Jason Calcanis, Dave Winer and many others are hotly debating Facebook’s ‘rude, greedy, vulture-like’ behavior of capturing, analyzing and presenting user data in a form that advertisers can take advantage of to mutual profit – Facebook and advertisers, of course, not li’l ole you and me, the ‘customer’. […]

  25. Healthcare folks are dealing with similar issues .. just who gets to see my health data? Perhaps the work that has been put into this area will help answer the facebook/etc… area

    Basically, I am the person who is the one to release my information to those who I deem appropriate. Auditing allows me to see who does access it.

    Is it perfect? We’ll see. You can check out one approach at http://www.connectingforhealth.org

    Super topic-


  26. […] rebellion against hyper-targeting continues. Doc Searls weighs in, as does Jason Calacanis. Targeted marketing always worked with fairly crude tools, and because of […]

  27. Hi Doc,

    I believe the main issue is not the Facebook service, it is the chosen business model. The currently dominant web 2.0 business model is to provide services for free and monetize with ads. But that business model is fuelled from the wrong side. It isn’t about creating user value, it is about monetization of the network. That is why services like Facebook provide us with privacy issues now. In my opinion, this business model will fail in the end, becasue it neither provides the user or the advertiser with much value. The user will ignore most of the social ads, as he has already done so on other websites and tv. The advertiser will find in the end, that a Facebook targetted group of consumers doesn’t provide him the response needed to justify the advertisement spendings.
    If instead you would concentrate your business model around user value creation, things like data control wouldn’t be an issue. It would be implemented correctly (user centric) because, you will monetise user value, not network value. And any customer is willing to pay for value. So which investor and which service creator will be taking that risk and opening up a new user centric web?

  28. I agree entirely with the previous comment. But if business models are that inflexible, then there is going to be an endless stream of models, each one different, but with no room for improvement on one of them. I agree with you that if it happens that user content has some value, and users are aware of that, why shouldn’t they be allowed to negotiate the terms and able to want to adapt the rules. It seems to me that in the political field, there’s a name for it: democracy.
    I am trying to warn new members of Facebook that I know, to adjust their privacy settings, explaining how to do it. I’m not sure they even bother with it. However these privacy settings seem to cover (if I understand them correctly!!!) the level and amount of data available to other users. I couldn’t guarantee that it refers to ad companies, etc.

  29. […] Time to write our own rules Doc sums up why we need to write our own rules! This is not a new meme, many of us have pursued elments of this for years. Still, we are getting closer to a time where it is possible. It’s why I still have registered iownme.com. (tags: iownme docsearls vrm privacy idenity) […]

  30. […] post για να πάρεις μια ιδέα για την κατάσταση: | Calacanis | Doc Searls | Dave Winer | Ethan Zuckerman | Jeff Jarvis | David Wienberger | Wendy Seltzer | Matt […]

  31. Doc,

    This is an issue that is going to jump into the spotlight as more people become aware of how much information is being collected and tracked. In my own world, I’ve decided to stop using Google Browser Sync because it’s clear that it provides Google with an exact list of what Web sites I’ve used. Instead, I’m now using a Firefox plug-in called Session Saver. A small step but, hopefully, one in the right direction.


  32. Doc,

    Interesting ideas. But, consumers sometimes forget the bargain they made in exchange for the free services. Sometimes it means your personal information can be sold or marketed. Other times it means your content is not really yours anymore. Sometimes it means you get to pay for additional services once you are hooked. Or maybe that the rules change over time and the service is unreliable. Most times things work out OK and consumers don’t complain too much.

    Free services always come with strings attached, limitations, service outages, advertising, etc. Do people realize what Google is doing with “your data”? Your search history…your click stream data…the sites you have visited? Do they understand what information DoubleClick has collected on “your data”?

    Being able to get your Netflix ratings or Facebook friends list is childs play compared to what is happening with your real important data. Maybe Dave Winer and the rest of the blog cognescenti should focus their cannons in a different direction?

    Don Dodge

  33. On Google Docs a user can not delete and remove his very own documents/data completely . At least embedded images in Docs and Presentations remain on the Google servers even after the user deleted a document. Click on this link http://docs.google.com/File?id=dchrr3kn_5cdc9q3dc and an image that was embedded in one of my documents will open. The issue: I as the owner of this document deleted the document from Google Docs FIVE months ago – and I emptied the Trash of Google Docs ( details and proof here: http://www.line-of-reasoning.com/issues/privacy-issue-google-docs-seems-to-not-delete-but-only-hide-documents-when-the-trash-is-emptied/ ). You would think that the non-ability of deleting your own information from its information service is something that Google should treat seriously. Any push to enforce “our rules” would be more than welcome.

  34. The Decentralization Dance…

    There’s been a pretty fascinating discussion going on in the blogosphere recently about the benefits and hazards of centralization on the Internet. Three main hot button topics have come and have ignited the discussion: TechMeme, TinyURL, and FaceBoo…

  35. […] post, triggered by Doc Searl, started a series of responses making the topic end up high on the TechMeme list. Jason addresses […]

  36. […] The blogosphere is raging about Facebook’s use of "my data". Doc Searls is promoting the idea of VRM (Vendor Relationship Mgmt) and says "Time to write our own rules". […]

  37. Big corporates take their lead from the government of the country they operate in. Until government stops attempting to find every single fact out about you and hold it in perpetuity on a database, large corporates will never give up the information they have on you as the government will always be on their side. After all, if democracy and equal rights for users of private corporations’ services broke out, they might have to extend these ideas to government held information. (No, freedom of information acts do not allow this at this present time, you can only see a very small amout of the information held on you).

  38. I read all the comments and I am philosophically aligned with the group on where to go, but how to get there is another story. I am most aligned with Alexander van Elsas — create more user centric business models. The beauty is that properly done, these models can be inserted into communities through Facebook API and Open Social. Petitions/netwide solutions won’t work because companies won’t listen, and users cannot effectively band together. I am working on a VRM/CMR (Customer Managed Relationship) model that gives the user 100% control, provides them unique value, and provides new value to merchants. Disruptive innovation (commercially viable) has provided the advances to the internet thus far, and will continue to do so. The hue and cry we hear from Facebook users over the Beacon just creates more opportunity for the next great innovation.

    Doc, let’s connect this week if possible.

    “A perennial gale of creative destruction is the essence of capitalism.” Paraphrase of comments by economist Joseph Schumpeter.

  39. I like the idea of getting my own data from Facebook, but it’s not my data that brought me to Facebook. It was my friends’.

    While I agree that we should have as much access to our own data as Facebook, I doubt most, or even many, of my friends on Facebook have the knowledge, tools or – most importantly – the time to do anything with their data if Facebook handed it to them.

    Having my data would be nice, but it’s useless if there’s no good framework for sharing it except through the service from whence it came, and I’d be happier having an open social framework than the data I put into Facebook.

    Frankly, I’m shocked that the framework isn’t already here. Napster was hacked out of IRC; open protocols ripe for social networking already exist and are widely used. Why hasn’t anyone put peer-to-peer file sharing, instant messaging, blogging and wiki software into a simple, unified Web interface? Has someone done it, and I just haven’t seen it?

    Between the chicken (the network) and the egg (data), I’d take the chicken, since the egg can always be recompiled – my social data didn’t come from anywhere but my own experiences, and my memory can recreate what Facebook won’t give back. But I can’t easily, if at all, recreate the network I had on Facebook through my existing tools (e-mail, blog, Flickr, etc.).

    PS: The VRM link in the third-to-last paragraph should point to http://projectvrm.org. It points to the non-existent blogs.law.harvard.edu/projectvrm.org

  40. […] good roundup of well-reasoned indignation on Doc Searls’ blog as well, including a heck of a shot at MoveOn.org for spending time and money going after Facebook […]

  41. Let’s not forget that Microsoft is now a part of the Facebook equation. Their equity stake (paid at high premium) gives them a place to test out their ad serving techniques, as well as this controlled circulation experiment. What many of us feared with Hailstorm now seems to be creeping in at Facebook, and Microsoft is tapped in. In other words, if what Doc fears works at Facebook, we can expect Microsoft to embrace and extend throughout its massive empire of user data. I suspect Microsoft paid so much because of the potential for the Facebook experiment to be taken much further afield — which makes Doc’s suggestions all the more pressing now.

  42. The problem is with data is also how Facebook is using it RIGHT NOW. With Beacon, people’s buying habits are out in the open. So if someone buys a book about an embarrassing topic, their friends and colleagues on Facebook may know.

  43. @Jason: We are in the process of building a decentralized user-centric social network. An early implementation (which is currently hosted in a single server, for logistic reasons) is available for trial. It is open for registration. If you subscribe to the idea of user-centric social network, please try it out and give us feedback. Thanks.

  44. I’m trying to keep the Beacon issue simple (because the complexity and layers of the data and privacy issues are of course broad and numerous).

    Simply put, I say no, you can not broadcast my data. Collecting it is one thing. Broadcasting it is another.


    Taking my data and shoving it into broadcast-style communication is not ok.


  45. I think both/and strategy works best. But I think a proactive strategy that is user centric makes **overwhelming** sense. Is it with a Bill of User rights or the creation of user social movements (like the union)? Or is a blog that aggregates all the UI, privacy, and other issues a quasi-solution?

    I know Tara Hunt was promoting an online community that did this for overall customer issues.

  46. […] to write our own rules 26 11 2007 Time to write our own rules: My own version: Stop petitioning Facebook and Google to solve our problems for us. They’re not […]

  47. […] up on the latest round of Facebook personal-data-misuse criticism. (Most relevant post: Doc Searls, here.) Doc thinks there’s no point calling for Facebook to make changes, even though their […]

  48. […] Searls summarizes one possible set of responses in these two articles. Time To Write Our Own Rules And Making Rules, II where he notes: What we need instead is to make tools that work for us, and […]

  49. […] during the news dead U.S. Thanksgiving long weekend was the call to arms by people like Dave Winer, Doc Searls and Jason Calacanis to force web companies like Facebook to give us back control over our data and […]

  50. […] under: My Startup — dawnkey @ 10:48 am And so it starts.  All over the Web (look here, here and here to start), people are already calling for control of their personal data and compensation […]

  51. […] Searls joined in the discussion with this: ‘Time to write our own rules’ and ‘Making Rules, […]

  52. I’ve been thinking along similar lines for quite a while, especially since NewsCorp took over MySpace, increasingly social networking is commercialised. There needs to be a Wikipedia of social networking…

  53. Doc, I’m with you and Jeneane: Facebook got it wrong on this one. It is one thing to obtain and maintain personal data. It is another thing entirely to broadcast it. And while it will be great if we can get the bulk of the webgoing population to take back control via individualized ToS and the like, the reality is that most people just won’t go to the effort.

    All is not lost, though! You may not want people to petition Facebook to solve our problems, but after petition comes ‘letting your social network usage do the talking.’ FB needs to take quick action or face a mass exodus—something that I hope would be a lesson to other marketers wondering how they can exploit the social graph.

    My two posts on the topic here:
    Facebook: Beacon of Marketing Genius or Privacy Pirate? Part I
    Facebook Beacon, Part II

  54. […] Following up on MoveOn’s campaign against Facebook Beacon ads […]

  55. […] Doc creates a major post – he gets all sorts of feedback.  So I’ve learned to wait a day before responding – and sure […]

  56. […] Doc Searls Weblog · Time to write our own rules Doc Searl Facebook (tags: Facebook Social privacy web2.0) […]

  57. In the classic words of Pogo; “We have met the enemy and they are us!”

    Yes, we are upset because Google, FaceBook, et al, treat the data about us, that we cheerfully give them, as their property, to do with whatever they will. I agree and that’s why I don’t give them that data. That data is the fundimental reason for their existance and without it, they have no viable business model. Personally, I am unwilling to give it them without some better quid pro quo than what they are offering. That’s why I still have only a Livejournal account and self-host my own blogs.

    The thing is, the next logged-in user is cheerfully giving them the keys to their kingdom for free. Unless that changes, you are never going to make a dent in their armor. Yes, people are stupid and what is it that PT Barnum once said? “No one ever went broke underestimating humanity.” Facebook et al are proving that truism every millisecond.

    Yes, if people were more careful with what they give out for free then FaceBook at al, might not exist and social networking sites wouldn’t have the current buzz. I don’t think of that as a bad thing.

    Yes, there probably needs to be some regulation in this sector because people are generally too stupid to protect themselves (I cite the current instance proofs of Google, FaceBook, et al). This, by definition, politicizes the entire argument!

    We can’t even use the Consumer Protection laws because there is no contract. The users are getting to use the site for free, little thinking that those servers, software, and tools, magically appear from nothing. No, it’s not really free. You freely give them your soul and personal data. What’s more, you don’t even have to give it to them, to use their site. They will let peer pressure do their work for them. They just make it easy for you and cheerfully remove all the speed bumps in the path of you giving them all the data they need for their business model.

    Like I said, people are generally stupid. At least, with Amazon and my paid LiveJournal account, I have a contract that can be enforced, and has strict implied Consumer Privacy Protections built in.

  58. So you waste your time actually paying attention to anything Move-On says? Left-Wing fascism at its best.

  59. nofollow is enabled

    YOU are collecting my data without even the most minimal of compensation for it. AFAICT, this is ‘the pot calling he kettle black’.

    So you got a throwaway email address. It works … but not for long.

  60. BillinDetroit, can you unpack what you’re saying here. I *think* i know what it is, but don’t want to assume too much. Thanks.

  61. […] Doc Searls advocates a peaceful rebellion, with members of various social networks creating the rules to protect privacy because the social networks and other entities that control user data are not interested in a more symmetrical relationship. For too long we’ve lived with “relationship management” that’s asymmetrical and one-way. Creating the grounds for symmetrical relationships cannot be the job of Facebook, Google, Microsoft or any big company. They can’t do it, and they won’t. We can’t petition those lords with prayer, blogs, or anything else. (Well, we can, but it won’t be enough.) […]

  62. […] watching and reading about social network portability and data portability and OpenID and facebook beacon and doc searls’ vendor relationship management and Obama’s call for open formats and […]

  63. […] have complained, I’m hoping this is one of these times. But the macro level story is that we DO need to create rules when it comes to personal information we put into a social network. But one has to ask; where is […]

  64. There is a larger problem at work. We depend on companies, yet they have no motivation to act in our best interest. We have a government that barely protects us, and corporate law literally prevents corporations from choosing the moral over the profitable. Obviously private companies have a better ability to stick to their guns (assuming they have guns) but as we saw with Google, they can forced to go public once they get too successful.

    We’re worried about data? I’m worried about Walmart labor practices, chemical regulation and vCOOL legislation _as well_. It’s time to write your representative a *handwritten letter* (apparently they have a system where a email=1 voter, but a handwritten letter=100 voters) telling them you want to see an end to practices you despise.

    Europe has laws protecting its people because they not only write and vote, they march and strike. We roll over and let business take whatever they want from us as long as we get to keep our ipod.

    I think we must petition everyone; as consumers by refusing to patronize businesses that act contrary to our beliefs, and as voters not by whining about elections but participating… not only by voting but by helping shape platforms and policy.

    And then we must follow up with action in a more traditionally capitalistic way. Whole Foods was founded because somebody out there said “maybe folks don’t want to eat genetically-altered pesticide-drenched food” and they didn’t wait for government to legislate to label where the food comes from. And they are doing very well (too well, now they are public and fighting a lot of the moral battles Google now is, and not always winning.)

    If you, Doc Searles, and your fine compatriots linked to at the beginning of this story pointed your readership at an alternative service that was behaving in a moral fashion maybe the power of the dollar would do what petitions so far cannot.

    If there isn’t one, isn’t it time for some hopeful entrapreneur to grab the opportunity?

  65. […] people like Dave Winer, Doc Searls, and others are trying to bust Facebook’s non-monopoly by advocating for social networking […]

  66. […] have been busy expressing their views on the subject as well. Channeling Jim Morrison, Doc Searls posted his thoughts last week on the failure of traditional rules on the new media user/content generator. […]

  67. The problem here, Christina, is that the only proven viable business model is the advertising and market data one, other than online shopping karts (Zen), gambling, and porn. People simply will not pay for a subscription to something like LiveJournal (especially with the current row over neo-puritan based censorship flagging). Yes, they’ve proven a definite need for WEB 2.0 social networking sites but, as yet, there is no money in them. Gathering marketing data is only the first attempt to monetize the WEB 2.0 concept.

  68. […] Open social identity. Someone will discover the online, digital, globally relevant equivalent of the Social Security number. But will everyone adopt it? […]

  69. The problem with Facebook is VERY simple.
    You get what you pay for.
    If you want a social network to respect your data
    and your privacy…then pay a subscription.

    The sad fact of the matter is that if you use Facebook,
    you should recognize that you just SOLD your data and your privacy.
    you do NOT own it, and you shouldn’t complain about it.

    We have seen the enemy…and it is us.

  70. […] Doc is right that incumbents won’t be the leaders when it comes to great data portability practices. […]

  71. […] It is an interesting problem, anyway. In this case, it is harmless, but the fact I have no control and no way of saying “No thanks” is pretty annoying. It might be time to write our own rules. […]

  72. Doc … my logging data now shows a link to my blog. Thank you.

    To ‘unpack’ my earlier comment:
    Comment posters who leave behind thoughtful comments increase the value of a blog, however incrementally, in exchange for a similar incremental increase in the value of their own. If the nofollow attribute is set on our comments, we are adding to the common weal without adding to our own. In this respect, I am very much in accord with Ayn Rand that it is wrong to ask an individual to contribute to the value of another (or collective other) without offering a corresponding increase to that individual.

    Your observations about Facebook, YouTube, etc. are spot-on. I honestly think that, while the consumer / individual may win some of the battles, the war for our data is already lost. Too many people, like one poster above, are willing for the merchants to anticipate our needs and wants (all the while defining them, as well, by controlling our options) for the needed restrictions to be enacted or, if enacted, enforced. Two points for George Orwell.

    Because commercial interests can tap into a dazzling array of public and private data (vehicle registration, drivers license, loan, revolving credit and mortgage records, military and scholastic data, health insurance claims, phone records including GPS traces, ad nauseum) there is little real hope for any defensive scheme. Even seeding with false data is of limited effectiveness because it sticks out against the trend of ‘good’ data.

    The American people have already handed over the keys to their persona and can’t revoke them. Other countries are too close behind us to point any fingers. When the whole bus leaves the road, the whole bus crashes.

    It is growing increasingly difficult to avoid being forced to contribute. That limits the value of data atrophy. We are constantly compelled to refresh the data ourselves. We renew our drivers licenses and our fishing licenses. We register the end of our marriage licenses, the birth of our children and the deaths of our parents. We sign up for courses and have to formally abandon them or take a failing grade as penalty if we cannot see them all the way through. At every junction, the bony finger of reasonableness is pointed … but the composite of the data available to analyze us is mind-boggling. Individually, the data collection IS reasonable. But the disparate wisps of data are joined and become actionable information. In the aggregation, the reasonableness is lost.

    I dealt with one facet of this -corporate phishing- on my own blog tonight, just before coming here. Cash is being phased out and implantable RFIDs are moving forward, albeit cautiously at the moment. Some are in the currency, your garments, your passport. Your data is being mugged.

    And here is the care those records receive: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7107975.stm

    So, what is the answer to the needlessly invasive questions posed by corporations and the promiscuity with which government exchanges data with them?

    Ayn Rand to the rescue: Atlas Shrugged … and so should we.

  73. […] Time to indite our possess rules Doc sums up ground we requirement to indite our possess rules! This is not a newborn meme, whatever of us hit pursued elments of this for years. Still, we are effort fireman to a instance where it is possible. It’s ground I ease hit qualified iownme.com. (tags: iownme docsearls vrm privacy idenity) […]

  74. […] reasons: I sure am with Doc Searls and Dave Winer on this one. I want control of my own data. And I want to write my own rules on how others may and may not use my […]

  75. […] I just read Dave Winer advocating that we need to retain control over our feeds, and Doc Searls says that we should be making our own […]

  76. […]  Replying to Doc Searls: “Time to write our own rules” […]

  77. Doc, Thanks for the Whitman, after a long month mostly at dock, I needed a little pick me up. the poem was just what I needed.

  78. […] future iterations of the web I see users taking ownership of their data and creating a more personal user experience based on their existing data no matter what device […]

  79. […] revised Music Section DVD Rentals to have Commercials? Ten Firefox Extensions to keep surfing safe! Doc Searls #1 Doc Searls #2 Maglev Wind Turbine Toyota Simulator Cool! Guitar Hero it Shreds Desktop Evolution […]

  80. […] during the news dead U.S. Thanksgiving long weekend was the call to arms by people like Dave Winer, Doc Searls and Jason Calacanis to force web companies like Facebook to give us back control over our data and […]

  81. Stop petitioning google and facebook to solve our problems ! lol that is such a true statment.

  82. I think that as people become more disenchanted with being ignored, especially over the next election cycle… we’ll see more people taking the risk, investing time to create the world they want, and developing pieces of what you describe.

  83. […] time to write our own rules – so i’ve been reading dave winer, ethan zuckerman, jeff jarvis, david wienberger and wendy seltzer, all of whom have problems with what facebook is doing with its members’ data. dave in particular is looking for action: … […]

  84. I’ll agree with you that websites should fully work within our own privacy and personal information guidelines.

    For sites like Facebook that have already invested into sectioning off options for how data is shared, this wouldn’t be too difficult. However, for more traditional websites, it would be challenging to implement.

    I will say that like your example, it would be neat to get an XML copy and be able to submit it to other sites like Amazon to suggest books. Lol.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *