Full Rundown of All of Today’s Proposed Changes to the Facebook TOS

facebook-site-governanceThis morning, Facebook announced several proposed changes to the site’s “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” – Facebook’s governing terms of service document for users, developers, and advertisers. Under Facebook’s process, any changes to the SRR must be made available for a public comment period during which users can give feedback on the proposed modifications.

We’ve read through the proposed TOS, and found all the areas Facebook has made changes. They’re listed below, with our commentary in line.

2. Sharing Your Content and Information

3. When you add an application and use Platform, your content and information is shared with the application. We require applications to respect your privacy settings, but your agreement with that application will control how the application can use the content and information you share. (To learn more about Platform, read our About Platform page.)

This one seems pretty straightforward. Within Facebook’s privacy framework, there are still a variety of authorizations users can grant to specific applications (for example, updating their status). Facebook apparently wants to be clearer about that.

4. When you publish content or information using the “everyone” setting, it means that everyone, including people off of Facebook, will have access to that information and we may not have control over what they do with it.

This new clause refers to Facebook’s upcoming privacy changes. In the new UI, it will be very easy for users to post content to “everyone” – i.e. that is publicly accessible to the Internet and, presumably, to search engines. While this will significantly boost Facebook’s content footprint for SEO purposes, it may lead to some user confusion as well.

3. Safety

3. You will not engage in unlawful multi-level marketing, such as a pyramid scheme, on Facebook.

This clause is particularly relevant to affiliate marketers running aggressive CPA campaigns. No word on whether Shaq’s promotional efforts on Facebook for diet strips are a traditional endorsement or multi-level program yet though.

11. You will not do anything that could disable, overburden, or impair the proper working of Facebook, such as a denial of service attack.

Last week, Facebook was subjected to a DDoS attack that was apparently directed against a specific user for political reasons. In case it wasn’t clear, that’s now against the TOS.

4. Registration and Account Security

2. You will not use your personal profile for your own commercial gain (such as selling your status update to an advertiser).

As we wrote earlier today, Facebook is now explicitly prohibiting companies like Magpie and Twittad from creating an ad network out of users willing to spam their friends and followers for money. Read more here.

9. Special Provisions Applicable to Developers/Operators of Applications and Websites

16. You give us the right to link to or frame your application and place content, including ads, around your application.

Facebook has placed ads around applications for a long time. This update just makes that clearer.

12. Special Provisions Applicable to Pages

This entire section is new in the proposed SRR.

1. Pages are special profiles that may only be used to promote a business or other commercial, political, or charitable organization or endeavor (including non-profit organizations, political campaigns, bands, and celebrities).

This appears to be Facebook’s rule against generic Facebook Pages.

2. You may only administer a Facebook Page if you are an authorized representative of the subject of the Page.

This has always been the case. It’s just restated here.

3. Pages can only post content and information under the “everyone” setting.

In other words, Pages can’t be used for private content distribution. All Page content is public and will be indexed by Google.

4. When you publish content or information to your Page we have no obligation to distribute your content or information to users.

Facebook is being clear that if you use Pages for an unintended purpose, it won’t hesitate in shutting your distribution down. For example, a few weeks ago, Facebook started disabling status updates for generic Facebook Pages.

5. If you use a Fan Box widget off of our site to promote your Page, others will be able to copy and place the widget elsewhere.

In other words, Facebook can’t prevent someone from copying your JavaScript snippet and putting your Fan Box elsewhere on the web. This generally wouldn’t be a problem unless someone intentionally placed it next to objectionable content somewhere, but this is always the risk with any widgets on the web.

6. You may not place a Fan Box widget in an advertisement.

This is an interesting rule. While you can place your Fan Box anywhere on the web, you can’t place it in an ad – Facebook doesn’t want its brand associated with possibly overaggressive marketing campaigns that could drive users to fan a Facebook Page.

7. If you collect user information on your Page, Section 9 of this Statement also applies to you.
8. If you display advertising on your Page, Section 11 of this Statement also applies to you.

Check out the full text of these sections here.

16. Special Provisions Applicable to Users Outside the United States

We strive to create a global community with consistent standards for everyone, but we also strive to respect local laws. The following provisions apply to users outside the United States:
1. You consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States.
2. If you are located in a country embargoed by the United States, or are on the U.S. Treasury Department’s list of Specially Designated Nationals you will not engage in commercial activities on Facebook (such as advertising or payments) or operate a Platform application or website.

While the previous version of the Facebook SRR said, “You will not use Facebook if you are located in a country embargoed by the U.S., or are on the U.S. Treasury Department’s list of Specially Designated Nationals,” the new text only applies to commercial activities such as advertising, payments, or developing a Platform app or a Connect-enabled website.

The complete proposed Statement of Rights and Responsibilities is available here.