Monday, February 16, 2009

Are You Frickin' Serious Facebook? Facebook's Nice New Terms of Service (TOS)

I'm sure this new TOS will incite quite a riot online over the next few days. I can't imagine the blogosphere will let this slide. Here's the part of the TOS they removed (from the Consumerist):

"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."

What does this mean? It means that no matter what, you grant Facebook irrevocable rights to all of the stuff you put up there. Even if you delete your account. While Facebook claims they'll only use it in connection to Facebook or the promotion of Facebook - even that seems a bit dubious. I guess you have to take them on their word. And since it's Facebook, I wouldn't just do that. Especially after their Beacon debacle. Plus, why should they be able to use anything of mine anyway... even if it's for promotion?

I think this brings a far bigger issue to light. How do you maintain the rights of your content while distributing it online? It seems that people are trying to apply what are now antiquated copyright laws to the online world. I think we really need to reevaluate those laws to determine best practices for the web. I don't mind sharing my content between different services as long as they're all trusted services. But I don't understand why you need to grant anyone a license reuse your content. If you're granting someone access to your account (like a friend), then that should include the ability for that service to share your content with and only with that person. If you enable a third party service to access your account, that third party service should abide by the same terms of service that the original content provider maintains. And they should have to agree to that in order to be a third party application.

You can read Facebook's response on the same Consumerist article (here). None of it makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Just seems like FB is trying hard to own as much as they can. Would you trust a company run by ex-CIA people to be open and honest? While that's just a rumor, I don't trust them nonetheless. I don't really care that much though because I've never uploaded anything to FB that I've been worried about leaving my hands. And neither should you.

As an aide...that image up there, I'm using without permission. Though I'm not using it to make money, which allows me to use it. Or so I think. If I put it on a t-shirt and sold it. Well, that's a different story. All of this is very vague in the online world.

Update - here is the largest FB group protesting the new TOS.
"People Against the new Terms of Service (TOS)"

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