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"The" Social Network, Data Portability and Change

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Just hours ago, it was announced that Facebook now allows its users to download their data from their Facebook account, putting users in control of where their data is and in the driver's seat for where they take their data next.

A TechCrunch post by journalist Alexia Tsotsis explains the new feature: "Facebook Product Manager David Recordon explains that you can access the "Download Your Information" feature from your account settings, hit the download button and Facebook will allow you to download everything off your profile, including your friends list, events, all of your messages, wall posts and all of your photos into a zip file."

Facebook's latest move is a necessary step towards acknowledging user rights on social networks, exemplified by the Social Network User's Bill of Rights drafted a few months ago at the 2010 Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference. Within this Bill of Rights, Article 7, "Data Control," and Article 14, "Right to Withdraw," specifically addressed the need for data portability.

Is Facebook's latest move the result of upstart networks like Diaspora or perhaps the media effect of the searing and powerful portrayal of the company's founder in The Social Network? Time will tell if this new feature is part of a move in the right direction for privacy on Facebook or merely an effort to improve the image of the Net's, I mean the movie's, anti-hero.

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