Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Facebook say... 'Relax, we won't sell your photos!'

Caroline McCarthy writing in CNET News' The Social, talks about a change to Facebook's terms of service, which has "created a firestorm of banter on the Web" and asks: Does the social network claim ownership to any user content on the site, even if the user deletes it?

Apparently, Facebook reorganized its terms of service last Wednesday. In a blog post, company legal representative Suzie White provided an explanation:

"We used to have several different documents that outlined what people could and could not do on Facebook, but now we're consolidating all this information to one central place.

We've also simplified and clarified a lot of information that applies to you, including some things you shouldn't do when using the site."

The blog post sounded benign. But the brouhaha arose on Sunday over a revision in the wording of Facebook's policy over what happens to profile content--shared items, blog post-like "notes," photos--when members delete their accounts.

I think Ms McArthy is spot on when she says, "most Facebook users won't give a hoot"... and that only "a few vocal advocates" of copyright reform and privacy, not to mention photographers and writers who may want the photos they upload or "notes" they write on Facebook to eventually lead to some kind of profit, will no doubt be alarmed and continue to debate the issues on who owns what.... and what can they do with it!

Ultimately though, for the average Facebook user, surely... do they still need to be told to be careful what they upload and say on their profiles? Does it really need to be said? I think so... ad nauseam... Be careful what pics you upload... I don't care what Facebook says... you never know WHO will copy them and what they will DO with them!

As for what should really happen when a user deletes their account? I agree with Michael Murdock's comment (on the article page)... Facebook should offer an option:

A. Delete and hold - remove my account for 6 months and if I don't come back in that time, delete permanently, nothing saved.

B. Delete Permantely, Immediately

Well, that's clear enough and I completely agree. However, confusingly, Mr Murdock goes on to say, "of course, you have archived copies of things, but those are understood and since the user is closing their account and not returning they forfeit the rights to those things".

No Mr Murdock... if a User wishes to delete HIS account, he should also be able to remove ALL traces of his posts, images, etc as they are generally tagged when someone uploads something into the system.

Otherwise, as Mr Murdock rightly concludes:

"If not, you need to strangle your programming team as they've basically screwed you.

I'd be asking a lawyer to ask a court to demand that such a contingency be in place so that when user A decides he wants to vanish from facebook, every email, every photo, every video, etc. just disappeared and was filled in by something else."

If I was the User, I would not care what Facebook chose to fill my vacuum with... so long as it's not my content!

The debate.. will no doubt go on endlessly!


coffee buzz said...

sounds like Facebook made the same mistake that Google made with their Chrome (web browser) end user license agreement