Monday, February 16, 2009

Facebook's new Terms Of Service, WTF?

I never got into Facebook. If you want to find me, my name is shared by a couple other people, I'm the Paul Wiedel from Naperville, Illinois, in case you, dearest reader, were wondering.

My wife is a big fan of Facebook though. She's constantly getting back in touch with old 'friends' from high school. She enjoys it.

Some of my current friends who I do keep in touch with have been recently discussing whether to get a Facebook account. Some of them cite privacy concerns as a foreboding reason. Others, or maybe just me, think that Facebook is a time abyss and prefer to keep a web presence elsewhere.

It seems there is a new reason not to go on Facebook, Facebook's new Terms of Service.

My shorter version of the TOS is Facebook claim's ownership of everything that is put on Facebook. Considering how people like to put intimate details of their lives out on Facebook, this should be alarming, or at the least regrettable, by many of Facebook's users.

One of the big selling points to Facebook when it became more popular than MySpace is Facebook's privacy settings. People felt more comfortable sharing details about their lives on Facebook because of the privacy settings.

I can imagine quite a few people with very private facets of their lives turned to Facebook for support. Facebook claims exclusive rights to that information.

Take for example people with gambling problems. Perhaps they felt comfortable joining a support group for people with gambling problems. Now Facebook claims that they have the exclusive rights to do with that information what they want. If I wanted to monetize that information I'd build a list of those people's contact information and sell it to casinos.

They can do more than just put your name on a list for telemarketers. People upload and tag images of themselves. Say one of these problem gamblers has pictures of themselves on this list of problem gamblers. This is also valuable to the gaming industry. Casinos use facial recognition software to identify cheats and undesirable people. I find it hard to believe that they wouldn't use the same technology to identify 'desirable' people and make sure that they receive a little extra attention should they fall off the wagon and walk into a casino.

I personally think that something will come to replace Facebook as the preferred platform for social networking. I don't know what it is, but it seems that Facebook is on its way down.

I don't mean to alarm people, but there are people out there who are going to use the information you share with the web against you. If you have a chunk of time, I recommend watching Steve Rambam's lecture about privacy. Rambam is a private investigator who is very good at finding people and finding information about people. He says that people and technology make his job very easy for him.

My advice with Facebook is the same advice that my dad gave me back in 1991: assume everything you communicate electronically is going to be read by the rest of the world.

EDIT: It seems that Facebook has changed their mind.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

as of this morning, facebook has reverted to their old terms of service due to numerous complaints.