Ever since I first heard about it at Joomla Day West, I’ve been planning to write about Akeeba Backup, but I haven’t had a chance to test it yet. (Those pesky clients, you know.) And then Facebook came out with the startling news that they’re letting users back up all the material uploaded to their profiles. I’m not a Facebook user, but fortunately my esteemed colleague Lee Hopkins had already written a post for me on the subject, and kindly allowed me to share it here.
Facebook has opened up its walled garden to allow you to save your own data.
As of now (it’s rolling out across the globe) you can “Download Your Information” into a .zip file all of the following:
- Profile information;
- Friend list;
- Wall archive;
- All of your photos and videos;
- Your notes;
- Your events; and
- Your messages.
A comprehensive list of one’s Facebook identity.
But why would they open it up – to what purpose?
CEO Mark Zuckerberg said,
“At a high level we’ve built two different things, Facebook Connect — which is our real effort to bring our sites to other sites, and “Download Your Information” where you can download your information and upload it to another site. Stuff that you put into the site, you should be able to take out.”
Which makes it sound as though Facebook are being nice and friendly with your personal information and trying to quell the discontent over the ‘Facebook owns my data and can do with it what it will’ elements of their Ts & Cs.
As Mashable’s news story commentator Chris points out,
This a VERY important PR play. FB is criticized for being a walled garden. Many people are defensive about that. This is a huge defense reducer and a way to come off as being open, friendly and saying, “If you want to port your data to another social network in the future, now you can, BUT we’re going to try our hardest to be so freaking great that you won’t want to.” It’s PR – and smart.
However, as other commentators point out, data portability is the key benefit even if the key reason why Facebook are going down this path is unclear (apart from a PR perspective, and with half-a-billion-and-growing members, why would they worry?). The user has the power to shift their data from Facebook to another platform should they wish, and even though Facebook’s Ts & Cs for the new ‘Download Your Information’ service specifically forbid other sites to build ‘auto-import uploaders’, you can bet that the various other social network sites are going to build them anyway.
All in all, it will come down to user behaviour (as always). Just because the tools now exist to port your data (including your list of friends) across to another social network, it doesn’t mean that you actually will. Even if you move to another service, with a list of all of your friends, there’s no guarantee that they will move to another service, is there?
One to watch…
Lee Hopkins is an Australian-based business communicator and management psychologist with over 30 years experience in helping businesses communicate better for better results. He blogs at LeeHopkins.net and has over 200 articles on business communication at LeeHopkins.com.