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February 18, 2009

Why I asked for Facebook users

facebook terms of serviceHere is a link to the piece Meredith Cohn and I did. It ran on the front page of today's paper.

As Mark Twain so astutely guessed yesterday, I was indeed writing a piece about the new Terms of Service. 

Midnight Sunner David S, who was one of the first to respond to yesterday's request, weaseled his way into the photo and the lead of the article.

Thanks again, everybody, for responding.

(Sun photo by Kenneth K. Lam)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:11 AM | | Comments (10)


All Facebook users received a note on their pages today about going back to the old terms and conditions until something better can be worked out.

Annnnd just like that, Facebook has gone back to it's "old" TOS

The story got lots of press (thanks to Perez Hilton's 8 million+ readers) and Facebook apologized and caved.

Klip and Dara,

I know -- I read the post from Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt, in which he writes:

"I can assure you, however, that these hypotheticals aren’t ones we had in mind when writing the Terms, and that selling user information for profit or using it to advertise Facebook in some way was never part of our original intent. Assurances aren’t enough, though, and we plan to codify this in our revised Terms through simple language that defines Facebook’s rights much more specifically."

Now, I find this a little hard to believe. I think they knew exactly what they were doing. They just got caught.

But at least they're willing to listen and respond to the groundswell of peeved Facebook users. Go team!

Really? You guys really believe Facebook caved? I wrote about this awhile back on Midnight Sun.

Facebook and Myspace's only viable profit model is in data mining. Many a story has been written about this, The Economist had the best article I have read.

Advertising revenues from these sites barely break the bank. Without mining data these companies face cretain financial ruin.

Just think about it. And be careful what you openly share with the world.


If you're DUMB enough to post your cell phone anywhere on-line then you deserve what you get. It's their site. It's free. there is a terms of use screen. MOST people don't read it.
If you "feel violated" stop putting super personal info on websites.

**~mYsPaCE 4 LyFe!!!!1~**

It always cracks me up when a site's user-base suddenly flares up over a ToS change.

"1 million strong for... whatever."

It's funny because Facebook has probably the most lax terms of service ever for a social networking site.

If these Facebook watchdogs started reading the end user license agreements on other sites they use, they'll be shocked and appalled.

For example,

1) Google can modify any e-mail you send or receive on GMail without telling you, for no reason.

2) According to Verizon's FIOS terms, you're not allowed to watch porn.

3) If you use AIM, you're not allowed to swear.

4) YouTube keeps all your videos forever, even after you "delete" them. Even if you delete your account.

If all else fails, these intellectual property cases never hold up in court and companies usually settle, regardless of what the ToS actually says. I can't see a company actually winning a case based on an agreement nobody reads.

A little tidbit from the Facebook terms of service to ponder, which has made me reluctant to join.

The Company may terminate your membership, delete your profile and any content or information that you have posted on the Site or through any Platform Application ,...
... for any reason, or no reason, at any time in its sole discretion, with or without notice,..."

on a couple of occasions there have been cautions from various sources about not to post anything you wouldn't write on a postcard or have printed.

"I can't see a company actually winning a case based on an agreement nobody reads.'

It has been written many times, ignorance of the law is no excuse.
If you haven't read the terms of service, you can't expect to win if you trangress any of the terms, if they chose to exercise them, except, maybe, if you can prove they don't usually or rarely enforce them and their targeting you as the exception or making you an example.

it never ceases to amaze me that people put their personal information on to a medium that is open for all to see.
reminds me of that commercial where the guy puts his ss# on the side of a truck and dares anyone to use it.
Why in the world would you put all of your personal exactly WHERE IS IT? can you tell me where your license is right now? chances are it's in your wallet. where is the information you put online? answer: all over the world.
all we all really that stupid? or just nieve?

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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