It seems as though data scraping is now becoming a problematic issue in the social networking world, as it recently emerged that Power.com is countersuing Facebook. It comes after Facebook sued Power.com towards the end of last year for scraping data from the social networking site. Power.com has now initiated its own lawsuit as it claims it is trying to stop Facebook’s attempts to prevent it from assisting users in accessing their own data.
“You the user create and own almost all the content on Facebook. You put up your photos, profiles, contacts and you own all of that. You have friends on Facebook and you own those relationships and everything you write to them. Although users’ ownership of their own data seems self evident, Facebook has historically been criticised for not respecting its users’ rights regarding their own content,” said Power.com chief executive officer Steve Vachani.
Power.com has eight million members and allows users to aggregate and control their data over multiple sites, such as Myspace, Twitter, LinkedIn and Orkut. Seeing Facebook’s actions, could these other sites follow suit? If so, they may come up against Scott A Bursor, Power.com’s legal counsel, who has fought similar fights in the past. In 2007, Mr Bursor achieved settlements that saw Verizon Wireless and Sprint forced to stop locking customers’ mobile phones.
He claimed that Facebook is trying to intimidate Power.com as it sees it as a threatening competitor. Mr Bursor asserted that the social networking site is attempting to stifle the development of Power.com’s technologies that set online users free from Facebook’s proprietary restrictions over their own data. Power.com has now demanded that Facebook provide users with complete ownership, portability and control over their data.
Experts at Sentor believe there are a number of prime scraping targets, including online directories. They say that online companies who have big public databases on their websites should take scraping seriously.