[Air-L] Help with Facebook Research

Richard Smith smith at sfu.ca
Wed Oct 3 14:57:46 PDT 2007

Rather than fight the system, why not do your research from *inside*  
facebook. Many people are already building social networking analysis  
tools as facebook aps, some with amazing visualization:


If one of these tools doesn't do what you need, contact the  
developers (many of them are students) and see if you can realize  
your objectives using the facebook API.

It isn't necessarily the case that you will come into conflict with  
the terms of service and it isn't necessarily the case that your  
research question can't be answered by a facebook app. I'd venture to  
guess that you can do what you want, a lot easier than you imagine,  
by working with facebook and facebook developers rather than trying  
to "scrape" or "spider" anything.


On 3-Oct-07, at 2:37 PM, elw at stderr.org wrote:

>> I have always been curious about the TOS on this. If I set up a  
>> group of
>> people to click and record each page, I'm in the clear. So, what  
>> if it's
>> a bookmark file they are clicking from? What if the outbound links  
>> are
>> automatically filtered and collated? What if my browser is pre- 
>> fetching
>> pages? I guess the question is: at what point does it become  
>> automated.
> I expect that one of the real goals of that point of the TOS is to  
> prevent
> someone from slurping out all of 'their' (our) data and using it to  
> set up
> a competing SNS.  Maybe not in quite those terms - but effectively.
> I would love, love, love for folks to have better access to the  
> innards of
> a few of these sites, so that butt-ugly hacks to extract data from  
> them
> without offending anyone or breaking TOS on sites cease to be
> necessary....
>> It seems to me that there should be a kind of Turing Test for  
>> scraping
>> and crawling: if you can't tell from the server side that it's not a
>> human, then it should be considered a human.
>> I know, that's not a practical proposal, but I just *wish* that  
>> was how
>> it was handled.
> I wish it too.  It would make so many things so much easier.
> --elijah
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