Facebook – Aren’t You People Used To No Rights, Already?

Facebook has made the news – a change to their Terms Of Service (TOS) several weeks ago has only now hit the fan – a TOS that makes everything you put up there free and clear for them to use – forever.

And although we are assured by them that the content cannot be used willy-nilly, it’s important to remember that a policy like this hasn’t the same weight as the TOS (a legal agreement). Otherwise, include it in the TOS.

An older example of this is Google – despite their oft-cited ‘Do No Evil’ motto, they have no problem censuring the web to comply with entering the Chinese market. ‘Do no evil’ is a pretty motto – shareholders that can (and will) sue you if you don’t maximize profits is a reality.

And while it’s easy to think of extreme examples for Facebook’s new found access (selling everything and anything to marketers for demographic profiling, for example), it doesn’t even require that much drama to see where this could go – for instance, Facebook is permitted to use items in business-related functions. So why not advertising? Imagine seeing your favorite photos on a TV ad – or ones that you’d rather NOT see on TV. Annoyed? Embarrassed? Afraid? Don’t sue Facebook – I wouldn’t like your chances of winning.

But the real issue here is not that Facebook wants more of you – it’s that people are still upset by it. Google has been building up a detailed profile of you for years (what do you think the Google search box in Firefox and other programs is doing with those results?) Every and any software program has a EULA that requires your firstborn and a blood test before you can install their program (my products are the exception, of course). And just take an airplane in the US – is Facebook really THAT intrusive?

So fight it all, or pick better battles. I applaud Consumers Union for doing something about it – but frankly, I wonder about all the users that accepted the TOS over the past few weeks without even reading it – isn’t it a bit late to complain now?

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