February 17, 2009 14 Comments
Facebook apparently updated their Terms of Service to assert perpetual rights any content you’ve ever shared on its site. This has understandably raised the ire of a lot of people, including Perez Hilton.
On Twitter, I posted this:
Trying to figure out if I care whether Facebook can do whatever it wants with my content or not. Leaning towards not caring.
- I don’t post things that will come back to haunt me
- Not convinced there’s any commercial value to my content
- The first time Facebook crosses the ethical line will be its last
Let’s do a quick breakdown of each of those reasons.
Not Posting Things that Will Haunt Me
My lifestream on Facebook is…how to put this nicely….sorta boring? I’m a married professional with two young children. I don’t have crazy pictures on there. Well, check that. A high school classmate did post an old picture of me wearing the dress of one of our homecoming princesses. With a tiara and parasol.
But hey, what guy didn’t wear girl’s clothes in high school?
Anyway, as I’ve engaged more with this online world, I’ve grown comfortable with the idea that one day my kids may find old things about me. It’s not that I live my life by the principle of “would if my kids found this?” But I am aware of that.
I also can’t remove things from Google’s cache. So this idea that you can retract something once published is a fallacy anyway. Facebook is just another place where things will live on.
No Commercial Value
Presumably, the only reason Facebook would use the stuff I’ve shared is for commercial purposes. Well GOOD LUCK WITH THAT!
Seriously, what will they do with my little notes about and pictures of my kids? My tweet stream which I pipe in as my Status Updates? My Google Reader shares? No one else has monetized that yet.
Perhaps they will include such information in aggregate for data mining purposes. Fine, because that’s not using my content specifically.
If they do figure out a way, I’ll write about their ingenuity most likely.
First Mistake by Facebook Will Be Its Last
Facebook is not some Twitter spam application site, stealing your login and password for nefarious purposes. It’s a commercial entity with designs on being THE social graph platform for the world. I’m sure Facebook is thinking IPO somewhere in the next few years.
I believe this alone will curb excesses by the site. We don’t need to overregulate the hell out of everything. Thus far, Facebook has experimented, but stayed on the right side of the ethical line. I don’t see a lot of changes in that.
But let’s say Facebook does cross the line, abusing the trust of its members in retaining and re-purposing their content? The very first time that happens, there will be an uproar in the blogosphere and Twittersphere. The mainstream press will pick up on it. At that point, state governments and the Federal government will investigate and hold hearings.
This is NOT what a public or wants-to-be-public company wants. If Facebook was some small start-up without its blue chip status, I’d worry more.
What, Me Worry?
That’s why this particular Facebook TOS clause doesn’t worry me.
How about you? Answer the quick poll below:
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