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Everybody and everything is in the social media cloud nowadays. Facebook, Twitter (eek!), MySpace… you name it. The enormous popularity of such services is largely based on them being gratis. But they’re nevertheless commercial parties, and ultimately their goal is to make money with your stuff. They’re no charity organizations. There’s no such thing as free lunch. See what you’re giving away, in return for the “free” service?

  • More or less of your ownership over your data, depending on the (purposely incomprehensible) legal terms that you’ve accepted when registering to the service.

  • Your control over your data, your freedom to seamlessly get your stuff away from the service provider and relocate it. How do you copy all your stuff from Facebook to a CD? It is, by purpose, virtually impossible.

It’s a very bad lock-in situation. If you acknowledge and accept the loss of your ownership, control and freedom, so be it. But I want to take personally care of my cyber identity. That’s why I made this site, to store whatever I’d like to share.

Luckily, there are some “non-evil” free services too. For instance, Google seems to take these issues seriously; see their Data Liberation Front. Another example is the Disqus comment system. What makes them great is:

  • They explicity state that “you will always retain control and ownership of any content that is present on your website.” This may sound obvious, but is actually quite rare.

  • They officially support exporting your data in XML format, should you ever want to relocate it.

This is something unusual. Kudos to Disqus!

Last modified: 2010-09-18 14:01 +0300

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