Social networking software

MySpace User Data For Sale

Social networking just became a little riskier to your privacy. Information from MySpace is now for sale to third parties ranging from academics and analysts to marketers.

The data will include any activity or information that is attached to an account. That includes blog posts, location, photos, reviews, and status updates--among others. Infochimps, an Austin, Texas, company that collects and sells structured data, is selling the data.

Of course, MySpace is perfectly within its rights to work with Infochimps, because it legally owns the data and the server logs. Users waive their right to privacy in exchange for free Web hosting and access to its social features. "Free" comes at a cost. Here's snippet of what "they" know about you.

This is exactly the type of scenario that Eben Moglen, a Columbia University law professor and founder of the Software Freedom Law Center, warned of at a seminar about privacy in cloud computing last month. I wouldn't have imagined that MySpace would be one of the aggressive purveyors of personal data.

In his talk, Moglen advocated development of peer-to-peer social networks in which users retain ownership of their data. His suggestion is looking more appealing (and prophetic) now that one of the biggest names in social networking has sold out its users' privacy.

[NOTE: The original version of this story stated that MySpace was selling data; in fact, Infochimps is the seller, through a revenue-sharing agreement with MySpace. MySpace has released the following statement:

MySpace is not selling user data to Infochimps. MySpace provides developers, including companies such as Infochimps, with free access to publicly available real-time data (such as status updates, music, photos, videos) using our Real Time Stream feed. We have identified the need for third-party developers who can't handle the size of our full feed to still have access to the data in a different format. For this reason Infochimps is offering developers a pre-packaged version of our Real Time Stream, as a value-added service.

More information is available from Infochimps Blog.]

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