Feb 092011
 February 9, 2011  Posted by  Online

Woodrow Hartzog raises some excellent points to consider in discussing the recent Lovely-Faces.com controversy:

Website scraping, which is the bulk extraction of website information by software, is becoming an increasingly visible activity. The Lovely-Faces controversy shows how scraped information can disrupt a sense of privacy when re-published in a different context. The Lovely-Faces website, deemed “a social experiment” by its creators, re-contextualizes names, locations, and photos scraped from publicly accessible Facebook pages in a mock dating website. This controversy serves as a good example of how the fine print in online legal agreements can sometimes protect website users. The controversy presents a great opportunity to examine whether a social network site’s anti-scraping terms are as beneficial to users as the website itself.


For the sake of argument, let’s assume that Lovely-Faces is bound by Facebook’s terms. Facebook would then have a claim for breach of contract. But what about the Facebook users whose profiles were lifted? These users have no contract with Lovely-Faces, and the traditional school of thought is that they are largely without recourse. Although Lovely-Faces has explicitly and unequivocally offered to remove the profile of anyone who requests it, other websites might not be so generous.

In my article on confidentiality in online communities, I propose utilizing the third-party beneficiary doctrine to enable members of online communities to enforce the terms in online agreements aimed at protecting users.

Read more on CIS.

(Woody’s name corrected for spelling error)

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.