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Facebook's New Terms of Service 426

An anonymous reader writes "Chris Walters writes about Facebook's new terms of service. 'Facebook's terms of service (TOS) used to say that when you closed an account on their network, any rights they claimed to the original content you uploaded would expire. Not anymore. Now, anything you upload to Facebook can be used by Facebook in any way they deem fit, forever, no matter what you do later. Want to close your account? Good for you, but Facebook still has the right to do whatever it wants with your old content. They can even sublicense it if they want.'" Oh no! Now they'll be able to license your super flair goblin poke 25 tag history!
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Facebook's New Terms of Service

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  • by pbhj ( 607776 ) on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:12AM (#26871697) Homepage Journal

    Facebook is specifically for private/personal data. Possibly it's more personal than even a gmail account - but do Google really claim rights to use and retain all your emails in perpetuity?

  • Naive thinking... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shrike82 ( 1471633 ) on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:13AM (#26871701)
    Anyone who seriously thought that closing their Facebook account would immediately result in everything they'd released onto the Internet magically being recalled and returned to the realms of privacy is probably accessing their account during their one-hour-a-day computing time in the loony bin.

    Who cares if Facebook can technically now use whatever you post forever. So could anyone who archived the page, or even took a screenshot. Not to mention that Facebook really aren't going to have the slightest interest in the average user, nor in using their content if and when they leave the site.
  • Politicians beware (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Knave75 ( 894961 ) on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:13AM (#26871705)

    Anyone who would aspire to a career in politics should find this very chilling I would imagine. Nobody cares that I wore a KKK costume to my last Halloween party, but I'm sure that the picture I posted of it would be worth a lot more when I am running for senate.

    (note: I didn't actually wear a KKK costume)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:19AM (#26871765)

    if you don't want your drunk, party, family reunion, college, work and so on photos being used as leverage against you in any way someone can find fitting, you still have the option of not posting them.

    I hate "internetlackofprivacyphobia" (hey I just made that up.. bush has tought us so much) one cares about your life, get over yourself. maybe you can be on one of those "look at all the happy and social people you can meet on the internet" outdoors that only creeps believe in.

  • by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:23AM (#26871809)
    I'm not really sure why this should come as a surprise to anyone. I mean, do you guys have any idea how valuable that data is to a marketer? For instance, just getting your name and some contact information (through legitimate means, of course) is worth about $20-25 to a typical marketer. That's why companies are so willing to give you special sign-up offers all the time (amazon,, reward programs, credit cards, banks, etc etc etc). As soon as you start tacking any bit of information onto that basic profile (purchasing habits, interests, etc) that value starts climbing through the roof.

    Now, think about what Facebook knows about everyone who's signed up. They have names and contact information. They have leisure-time activities. They have browsing profiles. They have entertainment interests. They have friend lists. And then throw that "25 things people don't know about me" thing that was going around a few weeks ago into the mix. Now they have that information, too. And people are just voluntarily giving all that info away. Of course they're going to hang onto that information (and sell it) if given the chance. What did you think they were going to do with it?
  • Oh noes! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ErikZ ( 55491 ) * on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:24AM (#26871817)

    It's FACEBOOK.

    Frankly, I'm even willing to say "If you put it on Facebook, it doesn't have any value anyway."

    If you're such a creative genius, spend the 6$ per month for web hosting and make your own website.

  • by internerdj ( 1319281 ) on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:25AM (#26871827)
    I'm curious how they can be sure it is you in the picture given the look of the full costume.
  • by Rinisari ( 521266 ) * on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:27AM (#26871849) Homepage Journal

    Facebook doesn't have an actual "deletion" procedure for accounts. When someone wants to "delete" their account, it is simply disabled and their profile is no longer accessible, nor does it appear in search results. Their name will still appear in tagged photos and on wall posts, etc, but it will no longer be clickable.

    The only way to truly delete one's account is to remove oneself from all tags, delete all posts, remove all pictures and videos, and all other user stuff manually , then "delete" the account. The only way not to leave a trace is to bomb the footsteps.

    I think the reason this exists is because Facebook does not handle foreign key deletion well, if at all. The deletion of a user profile record would have to cascade down through every table in the database, removing every instance of that user. Who knows how long that could take. It's easier to simply mark the profile inactive and handle that in software.

    This license change allows Facebook to hold on to all of the stuff a user has uploaded even after the user has "deleted" his or her account. IMO, Facebook is using legal means instead of developing a technological solution to the problem.

  • Not Surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MLCT ( 1148749 ) on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:27AM (#26871857)
    Times are getting tough - FB need to start to find ways of actually making money, and pretty sharpish as well. The "2.0" days of wandering along to a VC like an extra from Beavis and Butt-head and saying "uh, yeah, kewl, man - we, like, need some more cash - yeah, 2.0, social, yeah" aren't going to wash any more.

    Ad revenue is about to drop off a cliff (if it hasn't already), and loss making enterprises like FB - who's only revenue stream, other than VC funding rounds, was ad revenue - are going to have to start "monetizing" (what a lovely word for strip mining everything in sight) otherwise they will be in trouble.

    Never forget Beacon. Their silent implementation of that privacy nightmare gives a brief view of their true intents - and that was done in the days when people were throwing money at them and they were being valued as being bigger than GM. Now the economic hardships are starting to bite I am not at all surprised they have attempted this.
  • Re:Current users? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by echucker ( 570962 ) on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:28AM (#26871873) Homepage
    Five bucks says that the current TOS already contains a clause that they can change it without prior notice. The users will never know.
  • grrrr. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by apodyopsis ( 1048476 ) on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:29AM (#26871879)

    well.. thats was FB says anyhow.

    but we have yet to see this tested in a court of law, and I rather think we will.

    after all, the bank could change their TOS to allow them to remove as much money from your account as they wanted - but they would soon be challenged in court and more importantly face a mass exodus.

    so at this time, I'll take this with a pinch of salt.

    besides, they are welcome to my trivial rantings and boring posts - its not like I would put anything important up on there.

  • by Vandil X ( 636030 ) on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:32AM (#26871907)
    That's been the rule of the Internet for nearly two decades.
  • Re:Uh, yeah! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cosmocain ( 1060326 ) on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:32AM (#26871913)
    Yeah - and if you paint your car green it'll get recepted as a tree. Your logic's somehow screwed up.

    Seriously - what i wanted to say is this: You're using a free service which is provied by a commercial company. You really don't have to be surprised if they somehow seek ways to be profitable.
  • Not really. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xstonedogx ( 814876 ) <> on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:33AM (#26871921)

    You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof.

    I know it is hip to get all hysterical over personal information that is already "out there", but I've highlighted the part that really matters.

    In short, they can't do anything with it after you close your account that they couldn't do with it before you closed your account. And since you can change your privacy settings before you close your account this is pretty much a non-issue. Change all your settings to "Only My Friends", then remove all your friends.

    Really, people, the only difference here is that they don't do you the service of making all your data inaccessible to the people who could access it before. And why should they? That would be like slashdot removing all your old posts when you remove your account. Yes, I know it's "personal" data, but my guess is your 'friends' are more of a threat to your privacy than Facebook. After all, the only legal consequence for your friends sharing that information is that they can be kicked off Facebook for violating the terms of service.

  • Re:w00t (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:40AM (#26871979)

    and being a logged in user makes is less useless and worthless?

  • by domatic ( 1128127 ) on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:58AM (#26872177)

    Parent's post is the practical reality even if it isn't the legal reality. There are no practical means to stop anyone from using uploaded information in any way they see fit. Sure you can sic lawyers on them but that is dicey enough in your own country much less any other.

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Monday February 16, 2009 @10:59AM (#26872191) Homepage Journal

    On the face of it, this policy makes sense if FB realized that they could not assure timely clean-up when somebody quit. Too much risk of being sued.

    The only reason facebook would be unable to clean up material left by a given user in a timely fashion would be technical incompetence. We're not talking about a campus full of cork bulletin boards here, we're talking about a dynamic website backended by one or more databases. If they can't find all the data left by a given user, it's because they're completely incompetent big fucking idiots. So while that may be true, it's still no excuse.

    The only surprising thing here is that FB didn't realize it needed ownership forever until recently.

    They do NOT need ownership forever. They want it, and their customer base is stupid enough to give it to them.

    Responsible entities inform you when the ToS has changed.

    It remains to be seen if they have the legal right to retroactively grab copyright on all of that material.

  • Re:Paranoia (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CecilPL ( 1258010 ) on Monday February 16, 2009 @11:07AM (#26872299)
    They would if they had perpetual irrevocable rights to sell the pictures 30 years from now when you run for public office.
  • Re:Current users? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neoform ( 551705 ) <> on Monday February 16, 2009 @11:14AM (#26872389) Homepage

    Your continued use of the Facebook Service after any such changes constitutes your acceptance of the new Terms.

    Well golly, that clause should hold up well in court.

    That's like McDonald's posting up a sign on a random wall in small print "by eating our food you agree not to sue us for any reason".

  • Re:Current users? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Carewolf ( 581105 ) on Monday February 16, 2009 @11:20AM (#26872471) Homepage

    Fortunately that is a completely invalid contract point. You can not wish for more wishes, and a contract one side can change without notice or renegotiation is not a valid contract.

  • by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 ) on Monday February 16, 2009 @11:31AM (#26872615)

    How cares? If they can't profit from your data why should they even bother to keep it? Just toss it out like a cryogenic storage farm that doesn't want to buy any more liquid nitrogen.

    We're now in an age where storage is cheap. We can afford to store relatively massive amounts of information based on the possibility that it might be valuable at one point. Then we index that information in various ways - possibly new ways in the future that we hadn't thought of before. Finally, we cross-reference all these indexes to come up with additional information that would normally be hidden in the noise or not normally associated with the initial information collected. It's called data mining. And it's not entirely a new concept.

    The US military has a concept called EEFI (Essential Elements of Friendly Information). The common definition is:

    Key questions likely to be asked by adversary officials and intelligence systems about specific friendly intentions, capabilities, and activities, so they can obtain answers critical to their operational effectiveness. Also called EEFI.

    What this means is that unclassified pieces of information can be aggregated to uncover classified information. Let's say CNN reports that there is a possible conflict between NationA and NationB where the US has announced support for the tropical nation of NationB. Meanwhile, agents monitoring BaseX have noticed that the troops have gone to 12hr shifts. Troops seen at the local Superstore have a sudden increased interest in purchasing clothing and supplies for a warm climate. Transport aircraft are seen flying in to BaseX. Agents are able to take these various unclassified pieces of information and uncover the classified orders that Units from BaseX are about to deploy to NationB. Agents also know the types of missions these units train for and will be able to further predict US intentions and capabilities in the region.

    Back to our personal lives. The value of our personal information about those lives isn't in the particular individual. It's in the ability to feed to a massive data pool that is then mined to uncover aspects of our lives that we never intended to make public.

  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Monday February 16, 2009 @11:43AM (#26872751) Journal

    Facebook is specifically for private/personal data.

    If it's for private and personal data, why is the main function of the site showing it to other people? If you really wanted to keep it private and personal, why has it left your machine?

  • Re:Uh, yeah! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 16, 2009 @11:52AM (#26872869)

    And exactly where does this rant contradict my statement?

    It only fails to contradict your statement if you are stating that you would not be surprised if you were locked in a McDonald's and expected to pay an exit toll because McDonald's was "seeking ways to be profitable".

  • by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Monday February 16, 2009 @12:05PM (#26873049) Homepage Journal

    Seriously ... I'm sick and tired of hearing Facebook this, Facebook that, oh why don't you log on to Facebook, it's great and I'm meeting up with all these people ... sheesh. I've been to high school once already. I didn't like it, and I don't want to do it a second time, ok?

    Thankfully, the hype cycle is just about done and everyone will move on to something else soon. Don't believe me? It's just part of a cycle that's been going on for a long time. People moved from AOL, to Yahoo, to MySpace, to Facebook ... it'll continue to happen, right on schedule.

    And if that's not enough to convince you, consider the millions of teenagers who get online every year. The *last* thing they want to do is join the same online community that their parents are on! That's SO NOT COOL!!

    From a practical point of view, Facebook's "walled garden" approach has failed before. Just ask AOL. A site that requires that you totally immerse yourself in it just to get a feel for what it's about is not sustainable. A while ago I wanted to poke around just to see what all the fuss is about, only to find out that you had to create an account in order to do so. WTF? So I created a throw-away account with a fake name. Then I went to browse the profiles of people I knew were on Facebook, only to find out that you have to "friend" them in order to read their profiles, which would of course subject you to an incoming torrent of high school bullshit from everyone on their friends lists.

    No thanks. After seeing the way some people go into withdrawal if they don't check Facebook every 15 minutes, I'm happier than ever to NOT be a part of this particular clusterfuck. I want online tools that SAVE time, not CONSUME more and more of it.

  • by Dragonslicer ( 991472 ) on Monday February 16, 2009 @12:23PM (#26873295)

    The only reason facebook would be unable to clean up material left by a given user in a timely fashion would be technical incompetence. We're not talking about a campus full of cork bulletin boards here, we're talking about a dynamic website backended by one or more databases. If they can't find all the data left by a given user, it's because they're completely incompetent big fucking idiots. So while that may be true, it's still no excuse.

    And what database system do you use that can cascade deletes to the pile of tapes in the locked vault on the other side of the continent?

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday February 16, 2009 @12:47PM (#26873603) Homepage

    That's a clause that only matters if Facebook is in decline. On the way up, the fate of the information about departed users doesn't matter. On the way down, it matters a lot.

    Social networking sites have a life cycle, which is reflected in their long term traffic statistics. They open, they may become popular, the cool people move in, there's a herd effect that makes them grow more if they start to become popular, the losers move in, the cool people leave, growth starts to flatten, and then the long decline starts, usually leveling out at maybe a quarter of peak. This works just like cool nightclubs and restaurants. Anybody who goes out frequently in a major city knows this pattern.

    AOL, Geocities, EZboard, Salon, Nerve, Bebo, and Tribe all peaked years ago. Myspace peaked in early 2008, according to Alexa traffic stats. Facebook hasn't visibly peaked yet, but it looks like their management sees the inevitable coming and is getting ready.

    This is a hint that it's too late for Facebook to IPO. That had to happen on the way up, or it won't happen at all. There was much talk of a Facebook IPO in 2007 or 2008, but now the word is "2010, if ever". Probably never. They should have gone public earlier.

  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Monday February 16, 2009 @12:49PM (#26873633) Journal

    People like you don't "get it", honestly.

    I say that because I was one of them myself.

    I DO happen to agree with you about it being cyclical, though. That's given with practically anything out there. Even a basically "here to stay" type of web site such as eBay is more likely part of a longer boom/bust cycle. (I can remember when sites like Amazon auctions were every bit as good and viable a place to buy and sell as eBay. And eBay is steadily angering people with their changes to their feedback system, merger with PayPal and subsequent attempts to force its use for payments, etc.)

    But the thing is, I didn't care much for my high-school days either -- yet I *did* build up a list of former friends over the years who I lost track of. That tends to happen when people get married and have kids. They get so involved with "family", they don't have time to just hang out with all their old friends anymore -- and next thing you know? It's a holiday or something and they try to make contact, only to find out that friend has moved and they can't be reached.

    Facebook added a lot of "value" for me, giving me a way to re-connect with many of those people I had been wondering about for years. Yet, it still lets you keep them at "arm's reach" if you prefer. (EG. You can make them a "friend" online, allowing you to view their photos, status updates, etc. so you have a current idea of what they've got going on. But you don't have to invest the time required to start calling them on the phone or hanging out in person, which you might otherwise do as a thinly veiled excuse to collect that same info.)

    People can get addicted to anything, and Facebooks addicts are out there too. Myself? I check mine once every 1-2 days for a few minutes. It's a small investment of time to gather a lot of current info on people I'm curious about. Saves me more time than it wastes, really.

  • Re:Current users? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by l3prador ( 700532 ) < minus city> on Monday February 16, 2009 @12:51PM (#26873671) Homepage
    I've uploaded a lot of my photos to facebook for friends to be able to see. Am I foolish to think that they shouldn't have rights to use my photos any way they want after I leave? Flickr is free. Does Flickr have rights to use people's photos even after they close their account?
  • by mabhatter654 ( 561290 ) on Monday February 16, 2009 @01:05PM (#26873917)

    I agree, why is there Drama?

    The real issue they are addressing is that of keeping the commons alive. IF you put pictures you have taken of landscapes on their site, under the standard sharing license, then they are not going to remove them from EVERYBODY ELSE'S pages just because you closed your page. That's the real issue they're addressing. they may be in the process of making a cool TV commercial, showing cool facebook pages, and they're not going to stop making the commercial just because you pulled your pictures down.

    This is really no different than GPL'd software source code. Once it's out there, there's no getting it back... everybody here should understand that quite well.

    I think the issue is simply that they are not going to ever promise to "remove" your content.. it's backed up too many places, and the whole point of social media is to mash-up and cross-pollinate from the pool of stuff people choose to share. You can't just "take your ball and go home".

  • Re:Current users? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tunapez ( 1161697 ) on Monday February 16, 2009 @01:35PM (#26874281)

    You're apologizing... to us...

    Hey Batta', Batta', Batta'. It's a SWING... and a miss!

  • Re:Current users? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by IndustrialComplex ( 975015 ) on Monday February 16, 2009 @05:16PM (#26877285)

    RTFM. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but it's a good habit to get into. I do all sorts of web stuff for my flatmates' band, and you have to read stuff very carefully to make sure you're OK with the T&C.

    Harsh and ignorant. A lot of us did read the terms of service and decided that it was ok, based on the clause that they have now removed.

    I felt comfortable posting pictures there, based on the idea that I could remove them at a later date should I decide to exploit them commercially. However, without that clause, I would not have uploaded the pictures.

  • Re:Uh, yeah! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vikstar ( 615372 ) on Monday February 16, 2009 @06:26PM (#26878383) Journal

    I pay dearly to use Facebook. It is definatelly not free. Try adding an app and you'll see the garbage pit of advertising that has soaked into Facebook while you scan your entire monitor to find the "skip it" or "no thanks, just add it" link in 6 pt font, narrowly missing the "Continue" button that is strategically embedded into the commercial.

    If it has advertising, it's not free... downloading the advertising media is using up your ISP bandwidth, besides the work required to dodge or not pay attention to the commercials.

The absent ones are always at fault.