Posts Tagged ‘TOS’


Facebook and the Question of Ownership

February 16, 2009

This is not as frustrating as sitting through an English lit lecture on “authorship” but it still managed to cause a minor stir today:

Posted yesterday by Consumerist, Facebook’s New Terms Of Service: “We Can Do Anything We Want With Your Content. Forever.” – this article picked up on changes made last Wednesday by Facebook on their terms of service agreement with their users. Basically they are saying that they own all the stuff that we users upload: pictures, video, blog posts, comments and messages… etc. Websites like Mashable reposted the article and started surmising what this means for us end-users and why Facebook hasn’t been forthcoming with this change, Facebook: All Your Stuff Is Ours, Even If You Quit. And really, why were they opting instead to change the terms of service quietly, choosing to wait for the oncoming blog-storm to roll in?

So obviously, once the story broke yesterday, it started a flurry of indignant tweets and retweets on Twitter. I first picked up the story early in the day when just the Consumerist story was floating around, but as more and more people retweeted the news, bloggers began writing and by the end of the day, Facebook decided it needed to respond. Facebook: Relax, we won’t sell your photos | The Social – CNET News

I love that CNET cites the impact Twitter had upon Zuckerberg deciding to write this post: Facebook | On Facebook, People Own and Control Their Information. Apparently, Sasha Frere-Jones of the New Yorker, a prominent Twitterer, deleted his account, along with other prominent bloggers and Twitterers in boycott of the poorly handled change of TOS. This kind of response to the TOS prompted Zuckerberg to address the change, but many point out he’s not apologizing at all, and asks us to trust that he and his company are going to be honorable about it all. Social media and tech site Mashable summed up the controversy and Zuckerberg’s response pretty well, Facebook Responds to Concerns Over Terms of Service.

I, for one, would love to see more specific terms of service written up as an olive branch to skittish end users. I just got back from Disneyland and want to put up my photos. I’m holding back. I don’t like the new terms of service, and while I appreciate wanting to safeguard content that users put up, I’d like more direct wording in the TOS about what they WON’T do with my content. All of this adds to a broader debate on the issues of ownership in the digital age- a debate that grows more interesting with every passing day and new development online.


In a related point, I love how useful Twitter has been in making this into a story and pushing Facebook to respond. If the news reports on this tonight, it will be as more of an afterthought, and that is one of the many fascinating features that I love about Twitter.

UPDATE @ 5:53 PM: Twitterer @Mashable passes this article along: What Facebook’s revised terms of use mean for your content | Jacobson Attorneys: the new media law firm, a legal mind parses out the information on this subject.