February 16, 2009

Facebook Lays An Egg

Filed under: Groundwork — mikecane @ 2:43 pm

The Internet is in a Red Alert uproar today over changes to the Facebook Terms of Service.

Basically, Facebook is saying to everyone, You upload it, we pWn it!!

Revised TOS Gives Facebook Perpetual Rights to User Content

Google allowed old boilerplate to survive vetting of its End-User License Agreement during the initial release of its Chrome browser. That raised a storm of protest and Google soon clarified the situation and rescinded the boilerplate.

On Facebook’s part, this looks like a deliberate mass theft.

This is not good for the Palm Pre, which has Facebook as a major partner. Facebook is integrated into Synergy from the very beginning. What good will that do if everyone abandons Facebook in disgust?

Some people on Twitter have stated that their own accounts have little more than game scores and such, so why worry? I think that’s dangerously shortsighted. Pioneers in television, for example, wound up selling the rights to their works for pennies, never thinking there would be a perpetual repeat market or secondary home video (VHS, DVD) market. And now there are television repeats on the Internet itself! Who can say what stuff considered trivial today will be valuable twenty years from now?

Personal note: I have a Facebook account. I rarely check in. I’m not a Facebook fan.

Update: Mona parses out the value of “trivia” in her post, Facebook Change of Policy: Why You Should Care

Second Update: Facebook says it’s all a misunderstanding. Having faced onerous contracts in my life, let me tell you that the only thing that matters is what’s in writing and what a lawyer can do with that. Facebook needs to go back and make it even clearer. Right now, it reads like a license to steal.



  1. I’ve been told Twitter feeds automatically stream into Facebook accounts. If you’re worried about them owning your stuff, you might want to turn it off. Guessing it’s a Facebook setting.

    Comment by ramin — February 16, 2009 @ 3:05 pm | Reply

  2. LOVE the title and the TV example is perfect.

    Comment by Mona N. — February 16, 2009 @ 3:10 pm | Reply

  3. @ramin: Gah. Now I have to log into FB? I don’t recall ever linking Twitter to FB.

    @Mona N: Rod Serling sold out his Twilight Zone rights for a song. So did Gerry Anderson with his flock of series. What tragedies!

    Comment by mikecane — February 16, 2009 @ 3:28 pm | Reply

  4. It makes no sense that Facebook would risk messing up a good thing by edging in on people’s intellectual property. They had people’s trust and then they go and risk losing it; not smart.

    Comment by Joe — February 22, 2009 @ 1:46 am | Reply

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