Effort seeks to implement social Web 'bill of rights'

SAN FRANCISCO: Several high-profile bloggers have organized an influencer campaign that aims to give users of social networking sites more control over their profiles.

SAN FRANCISCO: Several high-profile bloggers have organized an influencer campaign that aims to give users of social networking sites more control over their profiles.

The "Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web" - whose authors include former Microsoft blogger Robert Scoble and TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington - urges social networks to let users control their profile data, friends list, and shared content by leveraging open standards.

The campaign is targeting popular social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, trying to influence the way those properties interact with users. PR efforts include reaching out to bloggers, posting a "wiki" version of the document for public feedback, and raising the issue at industry conferences.

"This is PR 2.0, which is to say it is very much about the conversation and the medium being intertwined," said John McCrea, VP of marketing at Plaxo, who is helping to promote the initiative. Plaxo's PR agency, Breakaway Communications, is also contributing to outreach efforts.

The campaign has corporate endorsements from Dabble, Broadband Mechanics, and Plaxo. Employees from the latter two companies co-wrote the document.

McCrea said Yahoo and Google have shown interest, but have stopped short of signing on as endorsers. "With relatively modest word tweaks, we could get it to a point where it is signable by those organizations," he noted.

Google and Yahoo did not respond to calls for comment by press time.

"I'm trying to be an early warning system and saying, 'Hey, customers are going to start caring about this stuff,'" said Scoble, now VP of media development at PodTech.net.

If implemented, the initiative could make social networks easier to navigate by allowing users to link their various profiles, so an update on one site will automatically update the others, added Scoble.

"I think this will [be] a competitive advantage," he noted.

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