Over the weekend Consumerist published an article describing Facebook’s updated Terms of Service. Now users are up in arms over the updated terms. The angry users which includes some of Facebook’s biggest evangelists, claim that Facebook is in the wrong after developing a more aggressive terms. A search for “Facebook terms” on Twitter turns up a ton of tweets from angry users. The statement which is causing some controversy is as follows:
You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content.
Facebook has essentially changed their terms so they now own your content indefinitely. So what does this mean for the average user? Probably very little. Mark Zuckerberg has clarified why they updated the terms on the Facebook Blog:
When a person shares something like a message with a friend, two copies of that information are created – one in the person’s sent messages box and the other in their friend’s inbox. Even if the person deactivates their account, their friend still has a copy of that message. We think this is the right way for Facebook to work, and it is consistent with how other services like email work. One of the reasons we updated our terms was to make this more clear.
Mark goes on to highlight the conflicting position with users:
Still, the interesting thing about this change in our terms is that it highlights the importance of these issues and their complexity. People want full ownership and control of their information so they can turn off access to it at any time. At the same time, people also want to be able to bring the information others have shared with them – like email addresses, phone numbers, photos and so on – to other services and grant those services access to those people’s information. These two positions are at odds with each other.
So should users be angry about the latest change in the terms of service? I don’t think so. Do you think Facebook is going to resell your family photos to others? Does the company have a diabolical plot to resell your personal information? Doubtful. While Facebook could theoretically turn into an “evil corporation”, I doubt that will ever happen and most definitely if it did, it wouldn’t happen anytime soon.
Facebook is too busy worrying about how to handle the millions of new users that are added to their service every week.