Commentary
2/26/2009
10:01 PM
Fredric Paul
Fredric Paul
Commentary

Facebook Invites User Input Into Terms Of Service

Remember the kerfuffle last week over Facebook's unannounced changes in its terms of service? The ones that seemed to say Facebook owns anything you put up on the service, even after after you cancel your account? The ones that the company hurriedly rolled back when folks complained? Well, Facebook now has a new approach: It's a



Remember the kerfuffle last week over Facebook's unannounced changes in its terms of service? The ones that seemed to say Facebook owns anything you put up on the service, even after after you cancel your account? The ones that the company hurriedly rolled back when folks complained? Well, Facebook now has a new approach: It's asking user opinions on how the service should be governed.The changes came to light in yet another blog post on the topic from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. First, Zuckerberg announced the "Facebook Principles, which defines your rights and will serve as the guiding framework behind any policy we'll consider." And second, he tossed out the Facebook "Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, which will replace the existing Terms of Use."

Zuckerberg promised that Facebook users would be able to vote on changes to the documents, but as Harry McCracken points out, it's not clear if those votes will be binding.

As I mentioned in my earlier coverage of this issue, where I wondered if it was a tempest in a teapot, I'm still not sure anyone really cares about these documents. Unless they get dug up by some enterprising blogger, pretty much nobody reads them, and it's not entirely clear whether they're binding anyway.

Still, Facebook gets credit for trying. They'd get even more credit if they'd made these changes on their own, without waiting for a firestorm of criticism to get their attention.

And you'd still have to be a first-class idiot to put anything up on Facebook that you had any interest in owning, restricting or protecting in any way, shape, manner or form. No matter what the Terms of Service says -- or what it's called -- once you put anything up on any social networking service, you should consider it public property.

End of story.

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