Mark Zuckerberg Says It’s Complicated. No Kidding Sherlock

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Here’s the rundown from several sites around on Facebook’s Terms of Use new policy.

A statement from Facebook. From Mark Zuckerberg.

A couple of weeks ago, we updated our terms of use to clarify a few points for our users. A number of people have raised questions about our changes, so I’d like to address those here. I’ll also take the opportunity to explain how we think about people’s information.

Our philosophy is that 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 so that we can show it to the other people they’ve asked us to share it with. Without this license, we couldn’t help people share that information.

One of the questions about our new terms of use is whether Facebook can use this information forever. When a person shares something like a message with a friend, two copies of that information are created—one in the person’s sent messages box and the other in their friend’s inbox. Even if the person deactivates their account, their friend still has a copy of that message. We think this is the right way for Facebook to work, and it is consistent with how other services like email work. One of the reasons we updated our terms was to make this more clear.

In reality, 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. Our goal is to build great products and to communicate clearly to help people share more information in this trusted environment.

CNET seems to support that history proves that Facebook won’t use photos and content:

Facebook has expressed disapproval when photographs and profile screenshots normally protected by the site’s login wall or privacy settings have been made public on the Web. The site reportedly threatened gossip blog mogul Nick Denton with an account deletion when one of his properties, Gawker, posted photographs found on a socialite’s Facebook profile. Suffice it to say it would be hypocritical for Facebook to publicly distribute, let alone sell, the same content itself.

Things are a little bit murky for sure, though. Unlike the Yahoo-owned Flickr, Facebook does not have extensive copyright preferences, meaning that a professional photographer might want to choose a media-sharing site where there’s less of a gray area as to what can actually happen down the road.

But as Facebook becomes more and more of a content-sharing hub, especially now that the Facebook Connect product expands its reach to third-party sites, it’s likely there will be a louder cry among members–especially those involved in creative industries who use their Facebook profiles for professional promotion or publicity–for clearer terms.

But I return to Mark Zuckerberg who says this:

We’re at an interesting point in the development of the open online world where these issues are being worked out. It’s difficult terrain to navigate and we’re going to make some missteps, but as the leading service for sharing information we take these issues and our responsibility to help resolve them very seriously. This is a big focus for us this year, and I’ll post some more thoughts on openness and these other issues soon.

I have to ask what the hell does that mean?

It’s complicated. That’s from TechCrunch:

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. And the principle that you should be able to delete your data from the Facebook service is one that many would argue trumps the good that is done by letting Facebook keep it. 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? And should there be different rules for different media? Most people consider the messages in their inbox to be theirs, even if the sender wishes they’d never sent it? And as this data is shared beyond Facebook across the Web, who controls what becomes even harder to determine.

So, the issue is who controls what? And, yes, I guess it is complicated.

Apryl Duncan writes this about Virgin Mobile Austrailia:

That cute picture of your baby? It could end up in an ad campaign. You’ve given Facebook permission to do what it wants with the image by uploading it.

Think it can’t happen? Virgin Mobile Australia used a photo a user uploaded to Flickr to promote its free texting service.

A book without your name on it? Perhaps. From Katie Allison Granju

I can see it now: Facebook harvests hundreds of randomly entertaining “25 Things” lists written by users, and publishes a book…without paying the contributors a dime.

Frank Reed said the same thing we guys said here last night on NewsTechZilla:

So Facebook may or may not have pulled a fast one. You decide. Here’s the question though. With all of the online services that many readers use daily, from major to obscure ones, how many of you completely read the Terms of Service for everything? For that matter, how many of you look for revisions to these terms? If we are not paying attention are we opening ourselves to this kind of action that can put us at some risk? No matter how we view Facebook’s change it should serve as a warning to be careful where we sign on the dotted line.

It’s a sinkhole of high school drama and here is some advice if you don’t like it. The jury is still out for me, but I won’t be posting anymore photos or links to my various blogs there. From

That’s right. Either put up, or SHUT THE HELL UP AND QUIT CRYING ALREADY. When you’re ready to leave Facebook – as I did before this TOS shit was announced – you can make your departure by clicking this link:


Photo credit here

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  1. christinajade said February 17, 2009 | Permalink

    i am so glad you said this…”It’s a sinkhole of high school drama…”

    i can’t stand facebook. really. i started mine to keep an eye on the now-16-year-old (who was 13 at the time) and last year to find out about my high school reunion. which, by the way, was just as boring as high school itself.

    i’ve always thought of facebook as a place for all the cutesy crap that i am too darn old for. but that’s just my opinion. i’m sure there’s something i’m missing over there, or so many people wouldn’t be using it.

  2. christinajade said February 17, 2009 | Permalink

    o yeah, by the way, i don’t have a facebook anymore.

    just sayin’ 🙂

  3. Scott Adcox said February 17, 2009 | Permalink

    There’s been a lot of talk about this on Twitter over the past couple of days. I’m not saying this just because I’m involved with this site–What Trace has compiled here is the best post I’ve seen so far that hits the subject from several angles.

    @christinajade The fact is, it’s a great way to get the word out about stuff (like Newstechzilla), but the new TOS is too open ended I think.

  4. Joe P. said February 17, 2009 | Permalink

    i appreciate this info very much. sure made me stop importing my blog to Facebook!! is mine!!

    as for pics of you and family and friends … i would never do such and do not advise such unless you have a clear copyright control over all that. the internet is a big, big place and maybe we should think more than once about throwing lots and lots of stuff into it, about you, which others can use for their own.

    thanks again for the heads up!

  5. coffee said February 22, 2009 | Permalink

    Sadly, most people would not have looked closely enough to notice the change in Facebook’s Terms of Service… looks them social networkers are doing a good job of looking out for each other


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