Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Facebook Update

If the new Facebook TOS has you as irked as I am... you should check out this brilliant article by Amanda French. She compares the TOS agreements of the main large social media sites to Facebooks, including Myspace, Flikr, Youtube, Picasa, and Twitter. It is abundantly clear that Facebook has stepped over the line. The question is will enough people react? Or will people get a little upset and then just forget about it because it easier than fighting a big dog?

Mark Zuckerberg , one of the founders of Facebook, tried to brush this backlash under the rug, saying

"In reality, we wouldn’t share your information in a way you wouldn’t want…".
But what if I don't want them sharing my information at all?! Is that not the point of having your own account with your own privacy settings etc... we are supposed to choose who to share our information with- not them! Given if I share my photo with a friend I am open to the fact that my friend can share my photo, and chances are I am ok with that. But who is Facebook? Why are they laying claim to our photos, writings, and other content?

For a complete Rebuttal of Zuckerberg's TOS defense check out Kent Davidson's post over at Razzed! He agrees that Facebook's TOS easily could have put the content ownership in the hands of the people while still giving legal to protection to Facebook (which is presumably why they are doing this.. unless I'm being naive and their really is some sinister plan to start selling our photos for massive profit! :P) His bottom line:
I am going to stick with the tenet that if you care about privacy, you have to pay for online services to protect it. There’s really no other way.

To me Facebook has just gone up another (10?!) notches in the CREEPINESS factor. I think they need to take some advice from Google and add a 'Do no Evil' clause into their mission statement- because stealing everyone content can be considered nothing less.

2/18 UPDATE: Due to the overwhelming response from the Facebook community, Facebook has reverted back to the old TOS!!! While it is a short term victory, many questions remain unanswered- namely where is the legal line drawn for what FB can do with our content, how drastic of a change can they make to their TOS without consent, can they ever change the TOS to say that they can keep our content forever or use it for their own financial gain (again without our consent)? For the full story head over to the Facebook Blog.


Barbra Seville February 26, 2009 at 11:09 AM  

First of all a person's information once posted to any website is shared by the world. For that matter the utilties have been selling your private information for decades. The internet is like the world's biggest bill board and anything posted on it is available to all. So the point is moot. You are already out there. Facebook wants to make money and thinking of ways to generate revenue. Free enterprise at it's best and worst. There is no such thing as privacy anymore. Emails and websites are public domain so beware what you post and write if you want to keep a low profile...Nice blog No sheep!

ewebert February 26, 2009 at 12:37 PM  

Thanks for the comment Barbara!
In general I agree- once you post something to a website you can't assume no one else will see it. It is online and thus available to the world to view. I believe the difference with the Facebook TOS was there was a usage clause, though now moot as they have reverted to the old TOS, that would have allowed them to use and even sell your content including pictures, writing etc. While everyone has the right to view it, the question was whether Facebook had the right to take it, just because it was posted on their site, and use it in any way they wanted to (ie in their own advertising or selling it to newspapers if you ever became famous.. a little scary.) Some assume that is just their right and there is nothing we can do... others were very upset and formed a group against the new TOS and with the mass outcry got it removed!

Facebook, and the multitude of social media sites like it, are forging new ground! The law is unclear about what is ok and not ok because there is no law that says what mass social media websites are allowed and not allowed to do because no cases have arisen to define it yet! Its actually quite fascinating.

You made a valid point that our private data has been mined and sold for decades. And depending which data you are talking about this is relatively true. Take one look at Google's Analytics and the number of variables they can measure about site users its pretty fascinating. While that is a very important point its a slightly different area. I believe the fear with the TOS was not as much name and location information, it was more the fear that Facebook was laying claim and an 'eternal right to use forever' people's pictures, written content, posts, videos, etc- without their permission- even if they removed it! It seemed to override copyright law- but they removed it before anyone ever challenged it in court to see what the law would have to say.

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