Let me start off with this:
I’m not even on Facebook and I hate it, because everybody stopped sending personal emails. Everything is getting too centralized.
– timeOday on Slashdot
I agree wholeheartedly. See, this is a bigger problem than most of Fb’s (or any other single-company-network) users are willing to admit: the minute the best interest of the
$Company stops being aligned with users’ best interest, guess who gets screwed. Yup. The users. As in: You.
And what could make such a change, you ask? Government/law enforcement for one. If something’s centralized, that means that the Police (or whatever force of your choosing) have to go to a single entity to establish a way of accessing data on lots and lots of users. Quite convenient – for the law enforcement. Not that much for users.
On the other side there’s e-mail. Everybody has it and use it on a daily basis. It’s de-centralized, meaning that there are lots of providers; you don’t like yours, you can go to a different one. You’d have to change the address, but it’s a small price (and not always, actually, it has to be that way), and you still can retain your address book and send everyone info on that.
Getting back to the Bad Gummint scenario – with de-centralized systems, like e-mail, the Police would have to go to every single e-mail provider to eavesdrop on all e-mail users. But that’s not possible. You can create your own e-mail server in your closet. Good luck tracking down all those (me included) that did so.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg in regards to advantages of de-centralized systems. And the only benefit of Facebook over those? The user base. Yes, the one that will soon be shrinking.
Where should this user-base go? Well, I’d say “go de-centralize yourselves”. Instead of Facebook – there’s Diaspora; for all you Twitterlings – have a look at Identi.ca and more generally StatusNet; and as far as AIM/ICQ/GaduGadu is concerned – Jabber/XMPP is a great answer. So good, in fact, that Google uses it for it’s GTalk; the IM blurb on the left of your GMail? That runs on Jabber/XMPP.
Oh look. Facebook bans Google+ app and Google removes Twitter from real-time search. Case in point.
Seems like for Facebook your personal data are their own trade secrets and hence they “cannot” give you them.
Let me repeat that: you will not get your own personal data from Facebook, as they are deemed Facebook’s trade secrets.