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MySpace opens up data portability initiative

Users get more control over profile portability

MySpace has opened up its data portability project in a move that allows MySpace members to share their public profile data outside of the walls of the social-networking site.

The MySpace Data Availability Initiative brings MySpace into line with a number of internet companies and industry groups in their pursuit of a data portability solution. MySpace launched the initiative in May, backed by partners Yahoo, eBay, Twitter and fellow News Corp unit Photobucket.

Along with social-networking sites' rise in popularity, a problem has emerged: people who set up accounts in multiple social networks have to re-enter all their profile information in each one, and then manually update it. The goal of data portability is to automate this data entry and updating task and to give people control over the information, photos, videos, comments, friend contact lists and the like that they enter into these sites.

At MySpace's Data Availability announcement in May, its CEO and co-founder Chris DeWolfe said: "Your personal online social profile will become your internet address. Social activity isn't about creating a walled garden. Socially dynamic web destinations should be portable and allow users to import and export aspects of their platform."

While the goal of data portability is generally welcomed, its implementation is a complicated matter, involving all sorts of technical, legal, regulatory, privacy and security challenges. In the meantime, companies like MySpace are taking the first steps in what will be a long process to achieve full, industry-wide data portability.

For now, the MySpace effort is designed to let its members carry to other sites their public basic profile information, like their bios, interests, favourite music and movies, as well as their photos and videos. Changes made to these elements on their MySpace profiles will be dynamically updated on the third-party sites.

Users will also be able to decide to drop a site from their network of updates, which is key to privacy and security principles. MySpace members will have a control panel where they'll be able to manage their 'data availability' parameters.

Eventually, MySpace would like to extend the effort to allow members to bring in data and content that they have entered into other sites, making the exchange bidirectional.


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