The whole idea of a social networking system like MySpace, Linkedin or Facebook, etc., is to make your personal network of friends and colleagues visible and handy. You invite your friends (good for you), and they invite their friends (good for them), and the whole enterprise expands (good for the owners). As individuals link up their friends, soon you have the whole world connected into one super-network, which is super valuable.
But hey, who needs YOU?
If we were simply interested in creating a mega-network of acquaintances as a way to make a buck, we could simply generated a profile of you by scraping your blog or homepage, then on your behalf invite your "friends" into the network, and their friends. They don't have to accept either. We can simply do the same and make a page for them, too. Soon we'd have everyone linked up. You don't have to do anything. Sure, some of your invited friends would see through this thin soup, but perhaps enough invited people would stick around and click on ads.
That seems to be the business model of JaseZone.
I didn't know anything about this site until I got a message from a fairly prominent colleague who sent me this email:
Hi Kevin, I hope all is well with you.
Are you really a member of JaseZone and attempting to invite me to be in your network? They have created a page to look like you are a member of the site, but I find it hard to believe you are, or that you'd invite me!
Here's your "member page."
I alert you only because I've been receiving dozens of emails from people who say I have invited *them* to this service - when I never heard of them and don't do this kind of thing.
I'm trying to pursue this with the JaseZone people, myself, but have met only with resistance. I did manage to get them to take down the page they created to look like me, however.
Sure enough, when I visited the JaseZone for the first time, there was my personal page already up and running. Not only that, it has been inviting "friends" into the network! I grabbed a screen shot of my page.
It's a bold and brazen ponzi scheme. I did not register with JaseZone, nor invite anyone. The material was scraped from other sources. They have my age wrong. The picture is from the web, and out of date (I've had a beard for 8 years). It is a lie that I "last login on January 14, 2008" since I have never logged in. My "friends" listed on the page are vacuous, just place-holders to populate the place. What a scam.
I may have this whole thing wrong. If so, someone please correct me. I'd love to know what is really going on. The phone number of the company simply shunts you to their website.
But it raises an interesting question: who owns your friendships? Is the fact that you are friends with X -- particularly if you declare so on one networking site -- now public knowledge that can be used by anyone? Is the shape of your life as revealed publicly part of the commonwealth, and in the public domain?
I suspect that your relationships are in the public domain once you make them public on the web, and so reverse engineering your social network from this information is not illegal, although it may not be socially acceptable or a good business practice. It feels more like a chain-letter to me.