Facebook TOSses out your privacy?

In Tuesday's IT Blogwatch, Richi Jennings watches a row erupt over Facebook's new Terms of Service. Not to mention gaming in a world without bad guys...

Chris Walters gets everyone spun up:

Facebook logo
Facebook's terms of service (TOS) used to say that when you closed an account on their network, any rights they claimed to the original content you uploaded would expire. Not anymore.

Now, anything you upload to Facebook can be used by Facebook in any way they deem fit, forever, no matter what you do later ... They can even sublicense it if they want ... Make sure you never upload anything you don't feel comfortable giving away forever, because it's Facebook's now.

Perez Hilton explodes with pink-dignation:

We're so glad we've never uploaded any of our stuff onto Facebook! ... Did you know that everything you've loaded up into your profile (personal pictures, etc.) belongs to Facebook, even after you've closed your account?


Basically, Facebook can do whatever the hell they want with YOUR STUFF. And, they can do so WITHOUT your permission. For example, they can license your personal pictures out to companies, make a shizzle of money and don't have to give you a dime.

But Facebook poker-in-chief Mark Zuckerberg says it ain't so:

A couple of weeks ago, we updated our terms of use to clarify a few points for our users ... people own their information and control who they share it with. When a person shares information on Facebook, they first need to grant Facebook a license to use that information.


We wouldn't share your information in a way you wouldn't want. The trust you place in us as a safe place to share information is the most important part of what makes Facebook work ... people own their information and control who they share it with ... A lot of the language in our terms is overly formal and protective of the rights we need to provide this service to you. Over time we will continue to clarify our positions and make the terms simpler.

Erick Schonfeld takes a sober look:

Just what is Facebook planning to do with this data, and isn’t it mine to delete if I wish? ... Essentially, he says that the issues are not so cut and dry. When you share your data with someone else, whether it be an email or a photo, it becomes their data as well. You cannot normally rescind data you share with other people in an e-mail. So why should a social network be any different?


Zuckerberg is saying, “Trust us.” But it is difficult to trust a company that is stripping users of rights they’ve become accustomed to, even if hardly any of them ever actually asserted those rights in practice ... If I upload a picture which I later regret uploading, why shouldn’t I be able to erase it from Facebook forever, even if some of my friends have already seen it?

Martin Espinoza find his own personal silver lining:

Changing the TOS and expecting that to change the copyright on a lot of media retroactively? I only pray that this is what kills facebook so I can stop hearing people rant about how great it is and how I should join.

Not to worry, thinks John Nagle:

Social networking sites have a life cycle, which is reflected in their long term traffic statistics. They open, they may become popular, the cool people move in, there's a herd effect that makes them grow more if they start to become popular, the losers move in, the cool people leave, growth starts to flatten, and then the long decline starts ... just like cool nightclubs and restaurants.


AOL, Geocities, EZboard, Salon, Nerve, Bebo, and Tribe all peaked years ago. Myspace peaked in early 2008 ... Facebook hasn't visibly peaked yet, but it looks like their management sees the inevitable coming and is getting ready ... There was much talk of a Facebook IPO in 2007 or 2008, but now the word is "2010, if ever". Probably never. They should have gone public earlier.

Paul Boutin joshes:

The issue is currently Twitter's top topic. Maybe Facebook should rewrite the statement into 140 characters?

And finally...

Previously in IT Blogwatch:

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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 23 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him on Twitter, pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email: blogwatch@richi.co.uk.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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