That said, the free software community may want to think before committing too much to services like Orkut. A good look at the Orkut terms of service would be a place to start. It includes some relatively interesting things, such as prohibitions on reverse engineering and even (surprising, for a Google-affiliated site) indexing the site. The truly fun language, however, is:
So this site which, among other things, is supposed to facilitate business networking claims the right to make use of any idea which any user might post there. These terms may seem familiar: Microsoft attempted to get Passport users to agree to something similar three years ago. The company backed down after a public outcry; so far, however, Orkut users have been rather more accommodating.
There is a more fundamental question to be asked, however: if we, as a community, really want to document our associations, interests, sexual orientation, editor preferences, etc., do we really want to do so in somebody else's proprietary database? Social networks seem like a field in need of a great deal of experimentation; few people would claim that the best ways to aggregate, represent, and work with such data have already been worked out. If we're going to create a social network database, we should be doing so in a public manner that will allow free software hackers to play around with interesting new applications. We would almost certainly be surprised at what they would come up with.
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