Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Facebook problem

Following a public outcry, Facebook is rethinking their terms of service (again). However, this is simply a good time to remember that any time you post online -- on a blog, on a website, on a social network -- you are sharing that content with the host site, and that comes with some amount of risk. So don't post anything that you don't want to be out on the Internet forever.

Yesterday on NPR's All Things Considered, a specialist in information law and data privacy said that the updated terms were not a "revolutionary" change so much as a "legal" change: "I think what this change did was draw attention to a reality about information on Facebook that has already been true on Facebook and lots of other sites -- and that's just something users don't think about," said William McGeveran, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota Law School. "So the backlash is about the normal state of affairs, not some new change."

Nonetheless, Facebook has responded to the hullabaloo by going back to the old terms:
Over the past few days, we have received a lot of feedback about the new terms we posted two weeks ago. Because of this response, we have decided to return to our previous Terms of Use while we resolve the issues that people have raised. For more information, visit the Facebook Blog.

If you want to share your thoughts on what should be in the new terms, check out our group Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.
BBC NEWS | Technology | Facebook 'withdraws' data changes
Facebook Users Angry Over Change In Legal Terms (NPR)
Facebook's New Terms Of Service: "We Can Do Anything We Want With Your Content. Forever." (Consumerist)
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