Saturday, January 19, 2008

Facebook woes

The social networking site Facebook has had a difficult couple of weeks in 2008. Firstly there was the fact that of course Facebook is a business and as such attracts businesses and others trying to 'make a buck' from the millions of individuals on Facebook.... some of us in the education field tend to disregard this fact, but again it is a business and is there to generate money. To be fair the originators of Facebook have never denied this fact.... it just requires more vigilance on the users of the site, particularly in the information that you put on your profile page.... remember this is viewable to some extent by any other Facebook user, and as the discussion later in this post, is very difficult to hide or delete from the site.
The second piece of news which I found disappointing was the news on Wednesday that Scrabulous, a great little application in Facebook has had to be removed, another business decision as reported on the BBC Technology News page.

Facebook has been asked to remove the Scrabulous game from its website by the makers of Scrabble.

The Facebook add-on has proved hugely popular on the social network site and regularly racks up more than 500,000 daily users.

Lawyers for toy makers Hasbro and Mattel say Scrabulous infringes their copyright on the board-based word game.
The move has sparked protests by regular fans of Scrabulous keen to keep the add-on running."

I first found my way to scrabulous when invited to play by Dean Shareski over the Christmas break, it was great fun to play a game between me here in Wales and Dean in Moose Jaw, Canada. It was great fun to play the parlour game while around 5,000 miles apart. The battle is between Hasbro and Mattel and is of course driven by money as much as rights. I tend to agree with Karl Savage who was interviewed by Radio 5 Live in the UK
"A lot of people are saying shame on Hasbro, shame on Mattel, if you wouldn't be so short-sighted about this then you have an opportunity to actually make some money from this rather than alienate your existing customers. I'd say find some common ground. Look at licensing," added Mr Savage. "Perhaps sit down together and say look, these guys have created this fantastic piece of software that lots of people use why not employ them or have a similar product on there that is licensed but use that to advertise your other products?"
Apparently again as rumours abound at a time like this, there are suggestions that the 2 companies are in talks to bring out their own Scrabulous style game..... business, money again!
The most recent Facebook related questions appeared on Friday when I was listening to the radio and heard of the problems some users have had when they wanted to remove their details from Facebook.
Again form the BBC Technology feed,

" Facebook is to be quizzed about its data protection policies by the Information Commissioner's Office.

The investigation follows a complaint by a user of the social network who was unable to fully delete their profile even after terminating their account."

"At present, Facebook users who wish to remove their profile from the site are given the opportunity to deactivate their account. But once deactivated the information, though no longer accessible, remains on Facebook's computers.This is useful if you might reactivate your account later, but not the same as full deletion."

All of these issues just reinforce in my mind the vigilance that we all need to exercise when using any of these web based applications..... I hope that those in charge don't use these issues as scaremongering to put in additional blocking of sites. Just again as with other posts of mine lately, it seems to be a bit of a theme, to use the opportunity to make a learning/teaching opportunity for online citizenship..... I hope so.

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