Again a big debate is evolving about who is the owner of your data in social networks, what can you or a third party that you authorize do with the data. A couple of months ago Robert Scoble was banned from Facebook for using an unreleased feature from Plaxo, to scrape info from his contacts on Facebook and import it into Plaxo. Now Google launched a new tool last week called Google Friend Connect. It let’s you grab content from one site and publish it to another. Again, the whole service was blocked by Facebook. The guys at Techcrunch do not agree but say this is really about control of user profiles, and therefore where the users go.
Not really a surprise, that Facebook is not allowing them, no?
As social networks will always want to make you use their web site for advertisement purposes, they will not be inclined to let you easily export your data. So a (or a few) big central trustworthy authority would be best, something like OpenID.
One of the major problems with this approach: if they just keep the data and provide API’s, where’s their business model? Advertisements is not going to work, so the only way would be to let users pay for centralized storage. Will they? Maybe they might, but it will take some time before the users start to get used to this idea and become willing to pay. In the mean time, cat fights will go on, between major networks with tons of user profiles and little (social that is, Google is quite big otherwise) guys that want to tap into that information.