Facebook has prided itself on forcing users to stick hard and true to their real names, eliminating the zany, anonymous nonsense on other social networking sites. The real-name policy isn’t changing, but Facebook is finally letting wacky nicknames into the mix, announcing that it will let you choose an alternate name for your profile page, letting friends who know you only as “Spanky” find you without having to recall your given moniker. The new name can also replace the nine-digit number assigned to you on your Facebook URL.
It’s difficult enough to parse a lengthy TOS for one web-based service, let alone for dozens, or to keep track of when and how they update them. It would be nice if some public-service website out there would keep track of this stuff for all of us, wouldn’t it? Last week, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) did just that with the launch of TOSBAck.org, “the terms-of-service tracker.” It tracks TOS agreements for 44 different services, including Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, Twitter, and eBay.
When voting ended yesterday on the Facebook terms of service, around 600,000 people had voted, and about 70% of those votes were cast for the new documents drafted over the past couple of months. Although the voting total was nowhere near the 30% of active Facebook users that Facebook said would be required, the site is still considering validating the vote and implementing the new terms after the audit is complete.
You’ve got about a day and a half left to cast your vote for which Terms of Service you’d prefer Facebook go with—the one written in September 2008 without user input, or the new one they’ve drafted over the last month based on suggestions from the Facebook community.
We are open to putting the documents up to a vote. The rules people must do when on the site and what we must do, a two way thing. There will be Comment periods, a council that will help on future revisions.
Now that Facebook has said they’re drafting a new Terms of Service based on community input, that community has eagerly put forth their proposals in the Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities Facebook group. Forum admin Julius Harper went through the 27 pages of feedback and pulled out the three major areas the community seemed most concerned about. Here’s what the people are demanding:
Here’s a little media whoring for ya. Consumerist’s Ben Popken was interviewed on the NBC Nightly News this evening. We were hoping Brian Williams would say the word “Consumerist” so we could somehow capture it and make it our ringtone, but alas. Not to be.
It appears in the wake of global attention and outcry, Facebook has, as of at least 12:27 am, reverted back to the previous Terms of Service. Phew, now we can all go back to sending each other digital cupcakes without Big Brother watching us. This is a temporary move until Facebook can draft a new Terms of Service that addresses the users’ concerns. CEO Zuckerberg wrote a new blog post, and Facebook spokesperson Barry Schnitt released this statement:
Online, in print and on TV, Consumerist’s Facebook terms of service change story, and the ensuing global uproar, has spread like Ebola in a monkey house…
We’ve seen food items, airline mile programs, and credit card limits all shrink as the economy worsens. Now it’s time for other rewards programs to become just a little less rewarding—and somewhat sneakily, too, in these two stories recently sent in by readers.
If you’ve been following the Facebook story over the past couple of days, you know by now that Facebook has said that they are not claiming ownership of uploaded user content: “We certainly did not—and did not intend—to create any new right or interest for Facebook in users’ data by issuing the new Terms.” But blogger Amanda French decided to actually compare the fine print for several social networking sites—MySpace, Flickr, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Picasa—and she concludes that “Facebook’s claims to your content are extraordinarily grabby and arrogant.” Read her side-by-side comparison here.
Well, yesterday’s Facebook post certainly blew up today, and it looks like Facebook is currently preparing an official response. In the meantime, a Facebook rep has written to the Industry Standard to emphasize that all rights are subject to your privacy settings, so even if they don’t expire when you close your account, they’ll still be subject to whatever restrictions you had when the account was active. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has also posted a more philosophical response on the Facebook blog saying that while the new Terms of Service are “overly formal,” they’re only meant to give Facebook the legal ability to enable content sharing among users.
This post has generated a lot of responses, including from Facebook. Check them out here.
CreditMattersBlog explains why that new AMEX contract language we wrung our hands over this morning is nothing to fret about.
After getting roundly whiplashed for having a clause in their Terms of Service that could be interpreted as meaning they reserved the right to terminate the service of any customer who criticized them, AT&T DSL reached out to several blogs today with the following commitment to change their ToS:
We are revising the terms of service to clarify our intent. The language in question will be revised to reflect AT&T’s respect for our customers’ right to express opinions and concerns over any matter they wish. And we will make clear that we do not terminate service because a customer expresses their opinion about AT&T.
We’ll reserve judgment until the pixels dry. As of now, their ToS is still the same.