I am possibly one of the last people around without a Facebook account. Seriously. Next time you’re at a stoplight, look around. Chances are, more than 50% of the people you see have a Facebook account. Don’t believe me? Ask them.
Now, when people find out that I don’t have a facebook account, they often times react with “wow” and “huh?” Sometimes I’ll get a chuckle and a “well, that’s just weird,” but for the most part I let it slide without feeling the need to explain my thoughts.
Aside from Facebook.com being a corporation that when squinting at looks like a small Microsoft replica, the entire thought that under no circumstance do I own my own content makes me cringe. I am not sure most people understand, but EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF CONTENT that you put on Facebook… They own. Every photo, every tag, every image, every word, every comment, every link, every click, every shared anything, every poke, every single thing. But you can just delete your account right? NO! Even when you delete your account… YES! EVEN WHEN YOU DELETE YOUR ACCOUNT !!! They own your content forever. This is makes me far too uncomfortable.
These are personal photos, letters, discussions, comments, that Facebook owns. These are people and system administrators working on the application itself that can, and most likely do browse your information unsolicited. Humans by nature will do things they are not supposed to do. If you put a big fat “don’t click” this in front of someone, they most likely will. And out of those 150+ people working at Facebook, you can be sure at least a few of them have illegally browsed some photos, comments and discussions. The only thing is, in a way… It’s not illegal. As the Consumerist intelligently points out, Facebook’s new Terms of Service agreement ever so slightly states that “even when you delete your account, they still own your content… forever.”
Here is the new Terms of Service agreement: As you can see it looks fine, but there are two important sentences missing from the end of this agreement.
You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof.
And here are the two lines from the end of that paragraph, which happen to be missing now: As expected, they directly explain that you could at one time remove your content… Now, you cannot… Ever.
You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. 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.
And, just for good measure, the agreement explicitly states what remains their property… forever.
The following sections will survive any termination of your use of the Facebook Service: Prohibited Conduct, User Content, Your Privacy Practices, Gift Credits, Ownership; Proprietary Rights, Licenses, Submissions, User Disputes; Complaints, Indemnity, General Disclaimers, Limitation on Liability, Termination and Changes to the Facebook Service, Arbitration, Governing Law; Venue and Jurisdiction and Other.
I have accounts with Twitter, Vimeo, and of course Gmail. I have my contacts inside Adium, and I use my personal blog to express myself online. I will never join Facebook, and the slight moments of insanity when I consider it, the sheer thought of Facebook being able to peer into my life without any control over my digital content makes me realize that eventually this will backfire. Whether it be in a corporate shake-down where Facebook implodes while distributing your content to advertisers for direct targeting, or whether it be because Facebook employees were illegally learning about future employers, employees and competition to get a leg up. How it happens is yet to be determined, but at some point, Facebook’s intentions as a whole will emerge. And they’re not about “connecting to your friends.”