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Facebook changes Terms of Service

February 17, 2009

Apparently, even if you delete your Facebook account, it still lives.  So, any message, for example, you send a friend is still there even when you delete your profile. I heard about this seemingly big change on the radio this morning.  And after some Googling, I un-wrapped a little more of the story.  

Read Mark Zuckerberg’s blog post about the drama.  Here’s an excerpt:

“Still, the interesting thing about this change in our terms is that it highlights the importance of these issues and their complexity. People want full ownership and control of their information so they can turn off access to it at any time. At the same time, people also want to be able to bring the information others have shared with them—like email addresses, phone numbers, photos and so on—to other services and grant those services access to those people’s information. These two positions are at odds with each other. There is no system today that enables me to share my email address with you and then simultaneously lets me control who you share it with and also lets you control what services you share it with.”

He brings up a good point – we want control over our information – but my question is, Do we deserve full control over our information?  We are sharing a lot of ourselves online – with online bank accounts, profiles on social networking sites and photo-sharing site accounts.  And we’re sharing ourselves without a care in the world that anyone would want to take advantage of us. We’re assuming we have a right to privacy and hoping that our online persona will not be affected and that this online persona will not affect our physical persona.  However, we already know our physical persona and online persona are not separate, what with companies now checking social networking sites to dig up info on potential hirees.  

So, is Facebook doing everyone else a favor by allowing our information to live in its space?

And are you upset that Facebook didn’t alert you to their change in Terms of Service?   Did you even know about the change before reading this post? What are your thoughts on this change?

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Crystal permalink*
    February 17, 2009 4:58 pm

    Maybe users will backlash over privacy and choose another platform. I left Amazon for Barnes and Noble many years ago over a scary change in their privacy policy. Very interesting and scary post.

  2. marypatanselm permalink
    February 18, 2009 9:55 am

    The masses have spoken: Facebook went back to their previous Terms of Use.

  3. February 18, 2009 12:07 pm

    It concerns me not at all and I’m glad to see this post asking the question – do we _deserve_ full control over our information? I am personally more than happy to relinquish full control over my information (that I voluntarily provide and, regardless of any terms of service understand that once it’s on the internet, it’s on the internet, b/c well, that’s the internet) in return for a great tool with which to instantaneously get valid trusted opinions on rice cereal, get feedback on ideas, share the latest SNL Digital short and have a virtual reunion with the 1996 cast of Waa Mu via a video clip from said production.

    I have no illusions that I “deserve” use of such a tool for nothing in return and/or with ultimate guarantees on my contributions to it.

    But a good lawyer friend tells me that this is my POV b/c I knew (and respected and cheerleaded) from the the beginning that Facebook was the ultimate aggregator of marketing and behavioral data ever from go. I don’t know if I agree with him, but I do know that as long as the tool as as useful to me as it is today and I am allowed to choose what info I share and what applications I add, I’ll have no problem giving a little.

  4. Heidi permalink
    February 20, 2009 3:32 pm

    There’s a word missing from this discussion: responsibility. Every person who puts information on the Internet bears the responsibility for that information and whatever may happen as a consequence of having put it out there. People don’t always think things through far enough to understand that the Internet is forever before they drunk-mail or get too snarky, but that’s on them, not the provider of the service through which they make misguided thoughts public.

    I think the real disconnect is between the lure of instant communication and connection vs. the permanence of that communication. That’s pretty much what happened to James Andrews, who managed to alienate an enormous client in 15 seconds flat:

    p.s. For the record, I have sent regrettable e-mails. I’ve learned my lesson, and am now a more careful communicator. Usually.

  5. melissahamilton permalink
    February 20, 2009 4:35 pm


    if you don’t want your stuff out there forever then don’t put it out there. Read my previous post about being an idiot.

  6. February 22, 2009 2:56 am

    the fact that Facebook change their TOS back so quickly is like an admission that they knew they were wrong

  7. Heidi permalink
    February 25, 2009 11:00 am

    It’s not so much an admission of wrongdoing as an admission of clumsiness, a la the “baby as accessory” Twittercluster that sank a Motrin ad back in November:

    Below are a few chunks of legal copy from Facebook’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy to demonstrate that while its public face is a warm-n-fuzzy find-your-friends service, it is a first and foremost a business that understands it must protect its interests by covering itself with the legal equivalent of a Snuggie. (Which is also why they incorporated in corporation-friendly Delaware and require, via their TOS, corporation-friendly arbitration for the resolution of legal disputes.)

    This is from the TOS (the removal of the last two sentences was what caused last week’s uproar):

    “By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content.”

    Meanwhile, this is from their privacy policy, under “The Information We Collect”:

    “Facebook may also collect information about you from other sources, such as newspapers, blogs, instant messaging services, and other users of the Facebook service through the operation of the service (e.g., photo tags) in order to provide you with more useful information and a more personalized experience.”

    And this is from “Sharing Your Information With Third Parties”:

    “We may provide information to service providers to help us bring you the services we offer. Specifically, we may use third parties to facilitate our business, such as to host the service at a co-location facility for servers, to send out email updates about Facebook, to remove repetitive information from our user lists, to process payments for products or services, to offer an online job application process, or to provide search results or links (including sponsored links).”

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