By now you have probably heard the news (and rants) about Robert Scoble's peremptory "disablement" on the Facebook network. Seems like the company froze his account after learning he violated the "terms of service" by using a script that grabbed his data so he could export it to other networks.
Whether you believe that the data belongs exclusively to Robert, or whether some of that data belongs to Facebook and others, there's a bigger lesson for Facebook in this latest tussle in the blogosphere. It appears that the offending note from Facebook was a machine-generated message (or faceless message from a real human being) to one of the world's most respected and influential bloggers. In an age where even old-school business leaders are learning to speak with their customers in a human voice, Facebook left this important job to a "machine": a cold, legalistic communique from corporate. A phone call might have been a better idea. Looks like there are several sides to this story that a real conversation would have cleared up.
Reminds me of an earlier breach in customer relations involving the editor of an in-world newsletter (the first of its kind) that covered EA's The Sims Online, one of the first virtual-world communities. The editor of that publication (who retells the story in excruciating detail -- excruciating for EA, I am sure -- in a recent book) got a similar form-letter email when he was dismissed from the community (also for allegedly violating the TOS). The result of that action: not good for EA.
There's an old saying -- never pick a fight with someone who buys ink -- or stink -- by the barrel. But if you must, give the job to a human being. At least they can talk back.