Facebook – Cool, huh! (Except They Want To Steal Your Content?)

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If you use Facebook. And value your content and identity. You need to read this.

A few weeks ago I wrote a series of posts about online anonymity and safe surfing. There was a section about social networks. Apparently it wasn't big enough.

Facebook has gone a bit Big Brother.

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This month the social media giant changed their Terms of Use, binning a clause saying users could remove their content at any time, with the license duly expiring. Instead, it now said Facebook would retain that content.

So what does that mean?

According to the respected consumer blog Consumerist, “anything you upload to Facebook can be used by Facebook in any way they deem fit, forever, no matter what you do later.”

That could mean that Facebook's desire is to steal, or in prettier words to control entirely, your content. From images to videos, music, writing, and whatever else may be successfully argued as comprising content. So could that not also include your identity, contact details, friend lists and online habits?

And let's face it, happy-clappy tapping our keypads from the safety of our living rooms, glossy ofices or that comfy chair in Starbucks, we too easily forget that every detail we divulge, every keystroke, every upload, may be at the mercy of a few cynical minds.

Then again, you could argue they're just tying up some loose ends, to keep their legals happy. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said as much on Monday, blogging that the new Terms allowed users to retain content shared from a friend who's just quit the service. And, he inferred, pretty much, “by the way, you can trust us.”

Now Mark seems like an affable chap with a cuddly smile. Nevertheless, fortunately yesterday a mini-Facebook revolt took place, with some users leaving the service, others protesting. An official Facebook poll, to measure sentiment, showed just 6% support for the new Terms, while other web-wide polls provided similar results and massive opposition.

Facebook's about-face

Yesterday, shame-faced perhaps, else shedding users, Facebook turned 180 and resumed its former Terms of Use…

facebook terms of use image

So much to the better, for now at least.

But be aware or, way better, read 15 Ways to Protest About Facebook's Content Scraping Strategy.



About the Author:

Olly Connelly (yeah, that's me) blogs at guvnr.com, polices WordPress security at wpCop.com and helps noobs build web servers at vpsBible.com, so if you've got sleeping problems you know where to come.