Facebook, that fierce defender of its your data

Social networking giant requires usage contract for search engines, because it cares

I'm sorry, this just cracks me up. I was unwinding from cranking out two earnings reports Thursday afternoon -- if you call staring at your computer with a catatonic gaze "unwinding" -- when I came across this interesting ReadWriteWeb article about cool-site-of-the-month social media question-and-answer service Quora. (Also see: Facebook edging closer to IPO) Pete Warden's article tells readers that Quora, as far as search-engine crawlers go, is a gated community. In other words, only the larger search engines -- Google, Bing and others unnamed -- are granted permission to index Quora's hallowed content. Grubby upstarts such as Blekko and DuckDuckGo are not welcome, even if they offer to use the service entrance at the back of the building. But that's not what cracks me up. It's this: In explaining that DuckDuckGo founder Gabriel Weinberg has been refused crawling rights by social networking giant Facebook, Warden writes: Concerned about mining of their public profiles, last year Facebook started requiring search engines to sign a legal agreement covering the usage of their data. Because, you know, Facebook would never allow "ad networks and other sleazy data collectors" to horn in on their turf exploit the personal information of its ad bait users. Well, unless it's Facebook and they could make a lot of money off it. Then that's just business. Otherwise, the very idea is appalling. Remember, Facebook will always be there to protect Mark Zuckerberg you. Sleep well, Facebook Nation.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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