[Air-L] FB vs. Google+ ToS's? Data-mining?

Charles Ess charles.ess at gmail.com
Sun Jul 10 23:51:28 PDT 2011

Hi all,
I'm wondering if any of our sharp, lawyer-ly friends and colleagues have
made a careful comparison between the ToS for FB and Google+? - and if so,
if you can share on-list (or off) your initial findings, impressions, etc.?

I'm particularly curious about the following.
At the recent IACAP (International Association for Computing and Philosophy)
conference here in Aarhus, one of our colleagues (with considerable
expertise in the relevant technical domains) suggested that FB's dataset and
data-mining techniques would allow FB to identify, for example, swing voters
in a given state or nation - and then sell that information to the highest
bidder (ostensibly, a political party wanting to win).
Given what I know from the computational side (precious little, I admit),
this does not seem implausible - i.e., technically feasible, if not already
If so - then is there anything in a ToS (whether FB's or Google's or ...) to
prevent such uses of "our" data, i.e., the information we otherwise happily
provide at no cost to such proprietary venues and services in the name of
social networking, convenience, etc.?

To my knowledge, José van Dijck has written most perceptively about this
dimension of social networking - ³Users Like You², pp. 14-58 in Media,
Culture & Society, vol. 31, no. 1. (2009) (and with thanks to my colleague
Jakob Linaa Jensen for making me aware of this article).  But certainly
Sonja Livingstone, Nancy Baym, Janne Bromseth and Jenny Sunden, among other
contributors to the Blackwell Handbook of Internet Studies articulate the
broad concern and point that our participation in such sites and services
raise a number of thorny ethical and political questions about our thereby
giving up - for "free" - important personal data that others will use to
their benefit, and not necessarily ours.

Hence, an important topic and series of issues, it seems to me - thanks in
advance for comments and suggestions.

- charles ess
Institut for Informations- og Medievidenskab
Helsingforsgade 14
8200 Århus N.
mail: <imvce at hum.au.dk>
tel: (+45) 8942 9250

Professor, Philosophy and Religion
Drury University, Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA

Exemplary persons seek harmony, not sameness. -- Analects 13.23

More information about the Air-L mailing list