Monday, February 16, 2009

Cutting Back on FaceBook [Updated]

At the beginning of February, FaceBook made a change to their Terms of Service. This change allows them to essentially own unlimited rights to your content. I am not a legal expert, but the language is pretty clear.

You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof.

There has been quite a bit of furor on various Internet forums about the change and I do know some people that have entirely closed their accounts over the matter. I am not yet inclined to go that far, but in many ways the damage seems to be done. The lesson from this for all Internet users is to pay very close attention to the terms of service on any site to which you post your original content, especially the free services. I had fallen into the trap of expecting to get a notice of such a change and the opportunity to act, but Facebook's terms don't require them to notify users of changes.

[Update: There is now a FaceBook Group to protest the change to the TOS. However, the multi-million member drive against the new design several months back didn't carry any weight with Mark Zuckerburg and company. Taking all of their efforts, ala Beacon, into account pretty much shows what they think about their user community.]

[Update: Mark Zuckerberg himself has posted on the FaceBook blog in response to the furor that has arisen over the changes to the Terms of Service. As benign as he makes it sound, and the explanation is reasonable, it does not change the wording of the legal document. Thus, my creative content will not be placed on FaceBook any longer.]

You can read some coverage of the changes at these links:

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