Scoble’s incident with Facebook does show a critical issue with the brave new world we live in. The surrounding debate has brought up all kinds of issues, which is good for the meta-debate about technology. There is one (right now) that feel compelled to consider: the social network piece. Mostly, this is related to his most recent post on this thread here.
Particularly, he notes that:
I’ve gotten dozens of messages from people who claim to have been erased by Facebook who DID NOT run a script (or so they say). They were just erased for some perceived slight and because they aren’t a famous blogger they haven’t gotten their accounts turned back on.
So, this is a company you want to trust your private details to? A company that can not just block access to your account, but can erase every last detail about you.
I’ve seen these claims, too. There are enough of them that makes me give credence to them (at least some of them). This is the piece that should give us pause: Facebook has the ability to completely erase you from their system. To be clear, so does MySpace, et al. For so many years, your network was key, for long before Plaxo, Linkedin, Facebook, etc. It’s become even more so no. I have several friends who found their current positions through these tools, and several more who utilized them as part of their strategy. The ability to become arbitrarily disengaged should be deeply troubling.
For me, this is not so much a debate about the evils of Facebook as it is about how one should manage their all critical network. For Scoble, I doubt that all of his 5,000 (or whatever that number is) Facebook friends are that critical to his social life (I’m lumping career into that “social” category). However, some percentage of them are absolutely essential. We all have a few contacts that are deeply critical to various functions of our life. However, it’s hard to determine that criticalness in advance. With my background, I find redundancy to be the most effective answer. I utilize various sources to manage this network: Plaxo, Linkedin, Facebook, as well as a few Google and Yahoo groups. This way, if I’m severed from any one part, I’m not lost to the social Zeigeist.