The Small Print Project                            

Archive for October, 2007

Are Facebook’s Terms of Service Fair?

facebook logoThere’s been a lot of talk about Facebook and its terms and dedication to privacy over the past 5 months since it launched the F8 Platform which spawned an elaborate and decentralized Developers Network.

We recently received a submission questioning Facebook’s Terms of Service:

Lowpoints: By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant… worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy… and distribute such User Content for any purpose…. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time.

Highpoints: 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.

Based on these terms, it should be clear to all that what happens in Facebook is Facebook’s. Sure, you can remove anything you submit / post on Facebook at any time, which consequentially terminates said liscences / sublicenses, but — does Facebook immediately archive all submissions? According to these terms, Facebook could stay out of trouble by immediately broadcasting all submissions/content via archival copies — which Facebook retains all rights to in perpetuity, whether or not the user withdraws said content. In essence, Facebook could hijack one’s copyright thanks by adding it’s stamp to an otherwise unchanged digital archive.

What deficiencies have you noticed in Facebook’s Terms and privacy policies in regards to third party applications? What issues do you fear / foresee and how can Facebook users further protect themselves? Moreover, what risk do these conflicts present to a company now “valued” at $15bn and how must it lead by example? Is Facebook breaking its own rules by allowing staff to circumvent the privacy policy, as Valleywag’s Nick Douglas alleged?