Opinion: Facebook Listens To The Mob, New TOS Shelved For Rewrite

The Facebook team put a new terms of service on the site on February 4, 2009 that has angered the masses. Those angry mobs have convinced the site’s staff to go back to their older terms, yet was there that much change to the new terms.
Last year I wrote an article about the terms of service on Facebook. The TOS, at that time, let members know that Facebook owned all information on the site, including your credit card information. At that time though you could eliminate your information after several difficult steps.

The new TOS changed that. According to the new TOS your information is on file for life with Facebook. That is the cause of anger.

The thing is there was a good reason behind the change of wording. In the past if a person went through the steps their information vanished. That information though could be needed in some cases if the person who was now invisible was say, stalking another person. Paper trails can be useful. The messages you have written prior to any cancellation of service will be available to the sender. Your photos and all other content will continue to be removed from the site.

Other media may have helped spread the anger over these changes.

CNN reported:

“Facebook should now be called The Information Blackhole,” one Consumerist commenter proclaimed. “What goes in never comes out. Be careful what you huck in there.”

Facebook is now rewording their TOS in order for everyone around the world to be able to understand them. The staff has also set up a page titled; Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. The aim of the page is for members to have an input on the new TOS that is being worked up. The newest version is expected to be completed in the next few weeks.

Facebook is not claiming rights to photos and other content. They do have a license however to share the content that you put on their site. The actual wording as CNN reports is:

Facebook’s terms of service claim that the company does not have ownership over content, yet that it does have “an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (to)…use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works, and distribute” material as long as it doesn’t violate the privacy preferences set by the user.

Your information is not being shared without your permission. Owner Mark Zuckerberg admits that the wording was too broad on this issue. Facebook staff is attempting to do what may prove to be impossible — allow you to share your personal information with a select few and at the same time shield it from those who could be lurking in the hacker zone. It’s not an easy job.

If I give out my e-mail to my friends on Facebook that is my risk. My ‘friends’ could pass that information along to another. Facebook can not be held liable for that.

The terms on Facebook aren’t that different from any other social networking site. They are wordier though. It takes a while to sit in front of the computer reading each term. It’s always a good idea to thoroughly read the terms of service for any new site you want to become a member of. That is the only way to insure you are not signing away a right that you do not want to.


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