Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/2/2009 (3896 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
In the face of a growing online storm over the ownership of content posted to Facebook, the social-networking company said the campaign against its new terms of service wrongly assumes Facebook claims ownership of material forever, even if users close their accounts.
Until now, Facebook’s worldwide licence to any uploaded material automatically expired if a user removed it and closed the account, according to the old terms of service (TOS).
The new terms, in effect since Feb. 4, struck a key line that stated the licence to use uploaded content in promotional or advertising materials expired automatically if you removed your content.
After an influential online publication on Sunday blasted Facebook under the headline, "We can do anything we want with your content. Forever," news spread quickly on the blogosphere.
By Monday, the story made the top 10 list of most talked about topics on Twitter Inc.’s micro-blogging service. And three Facebook groups had been created, under the banner "Facebook owns you: Protest the New Changes to the TOS."
A spokesman for Facebook, based in Palo Alto, Calif., tried to quell the concerns.
"We are not claiming and have never claimed ownership of material that users upload. The new terms were clarified to be more consistent with the behaviour of the site. That is, if you send a message to another user (or post to their wall, etc.), that content might not be removed by Facebook if you delete your account (but can be deleted by your friend)," Barry Schnitt said in a statement.
He also pointed out that this licence is made subject to the user’s privacy settings and it only allows Facebook to use the information in connection with the promotion of the site.
"Users generally expect and understand this behaviour as it has been a common practice for web services since the advent of webmail. For example, if you send a message to a friend on a webmail service, that service will not delete that message from your friend’s inbox if you delete your account," said Schnitt.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg also weighed in on the controversy Monday, writing on the Facebook blog that, "Our philosophy that people own their information and control who they share it with has remained constant.
"A lot of the language in our terms is overly formal and protective of the rights we need to provide this service to you. Over time we will continue to clarify our positions and make the terms simpler."
Despite the assurances from Facebook, Rick Macl, a Winnipeg user, said he’s had enough. He sent a note to all his Facebook friends Monday, saying he will be closing his account in two weeks. The new terms of service were just the last straw, he said.
"You know what Facebook is? It’s a company that gets as much information on you, and they sell it to the highest bidder," he said in an interview, referring to its use of targeted advertising.
"You’re supposed to be able to set your privacy settings, but if they take that information for advertising, where is the privacy? And even if you cancel, they can hang on to your information? Is this even legal? Facebook can go to hell. I’m done with them."
Separately, Facebook is the subject of an ongoing investigation by Canada’s privacy commissioner. Jennifer Stoddart launched an investigation last year into whether the Facebook is breaking the law when it passes on sensitive personal information to advertisers and other profit-making companies without securing meaningful consent.
Stoddart launched the investigation after law students interning at the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic at the University of Ottawa filed a complaint, alleging 21 other violations under Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.
Other alleged violations include failing to destroy the personal information of users who shut down their Facebook accounts, failing to safeguard it from unauthorized access, failing to provide a valid opt-out consent to share personal information, and limiting its collection necessary for its stated purposes.
- Canwest News Service