I’m Done With Facebook

It was bad enough with all the apps and the winks and the intrusive nonsense that greeted you every time you logged on, but this was the last straw. Facebook, showing how smug and contemptuous they are of community, now wants to seize the rights of anything you create and happen to distribute through their networks, by changing the Terms of Service to suit their avaricious purposes. I never agreed to these Terms of Service, and chances are that neither did you. For the record, I sure as hell do not grant Facebook any right to store archived copies of any content imported form my blog, and if these boneheads even try to use my content, they will face severe legal ramifications. And it won’t be limited to arbitration. Because I never agreed to the new terms of service. And nothing in the OLD terms of service indicated an automatic update to the NEW terms of service.

So I’ve deleted my account. If you want to delete yours, the magic link is here.

Nothing that I create will ever be distributed on Facebook again. If you want to contact me, you can get me on Twitter or email.

I would advise any writers, artists, and photographers to remove their content posthaste, and not give Facebook the right to profit on your hard labor. Creative Commons and community is the solution. Not autocratic assignation of rights.

UPDATE: J.F. Quackenbush has put up a post in relation to this, suggesting a certain hypocrisy among those who are up in arms about Facebook’s decision. (In Quackenbush’s view, since we have no problem copying a picture, we should, in theory, have no problem giving up our content.) He also calls out Chris Walters for failing to contact a Facebook representative is lousy journalism. Ordinarily, I would agree with him on the second point. But in this case (and unlike the Washington Post Book World/NBCC contretemps), we have very specific language in the TOS to work from and interpret.

To respond to Quackenbush, what’s not to suggest that Facebook wouldn’t do precisely what Eric Bauman did? Bauman, as you recall, took the content that other people created, hosted it on eBaum’s World, and profited without distributing the money back to the people who created it. This was the scummiest of business practices, running counter to the open distribution of content — that is, if we can all accept the ideal model for rights and sharing to be some optimally tuned Creative Commons license. When you upload a YouTube video and it becomes a hit, Google (most of the time) ensures that the content producer is involved with revenue. And Google, to its credit, amended the Chrome EULA when there was public concern about content rights.

But the Facebook language clearly dictates that you are giving Facebook an irrevocable and perpetual right to distribute and make derivative copies of content you upload to Facebook for any purpose. ANY. Whether it be a book, a film, or whatever other options Facebook may have cooked up. Recall Alison Chang, who saw her Flickr photo turned into a Virgin Mobile advertisement without her consent. I certainly don’t want my likeness being used for advertising “for any purpose” without my consent. And that’s precisely what I’m giving up under the Facebook “license.” Granted, my interpretation here assumes that “on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof” will be interpreted fairly broadly. (And actually, the trickiest bit in the paragraph is the final sentence, which conflicts with the previous sentence. If you’ve already granted Facebook the irrevocable right to give up your content and likeness, then how can you still have “all rights and permissions?” Perhaps an IP attorney can sort out this thorny language.) Since Facebook has demonstrated no reservations in sharing private data with developers, the company’s history suggests that this same recurring invasion of privacy will carry forth under the new Terms of Service. The only difference is that Facebook now intends to profit from the content you upload, and they can now use it in any way they want, because you’ve capitulated all your rights to it.

UPDATE 2: The Photo Attorney thinks the new Terms of Service are bunk. And Dhananjay Nene explains why he deleted his data. MediaVidea conjures up some sordid possibilities for what Facebook will do under the new TOS.

Mashable: “Until now, users had options with regards to how the data they generated on Facebook was used. Now, they have no options whatsoever, rather than quit the service altogether. It’s a major difference; I’m not going to take it lightly, and neither should you.”

Meanwhile, Andy on the Road compares Facebook and YouTube’s respective Terms of Services. When you delete a YouTube video, YouTube does not have any control over the data. The license ends. And it’s also worth noting that Twitter’s Terms of Service maintain a what’s yours is yours policy.

UPDATE 3: Amanda French compares Facebook’s TOS against other social networks. The results, in the words of Ms. French, are “extraordinarily grabby and arrogant.” Facebook has responded, claiming, “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. None of the news or blog reports at the time we announced them on February 4 suggested any confusion or misunderstanding.” On the contrary, the current Terms of Service spell out Facebook’s intentions quite clearly. If Facebook genuinely was not interested in “confusion or misunderstanding,” then why didn’t they inform the users of the ToS change? This is insulting corporate boilerplate from an arrogant organization that truly believes its users are idiots. Boycott Facebook!

UPDATE 4: To clarify my stance for the FOX News crowd (you know, you could have contacted me), my quibbles are with both versions of the blanket license. But the newer one is especially diabolical because of the manner in which it abrogates rights to content that you have deleted without informing the user. As abundantly proven by Ms. French above, none of the other social networks do this.

UPDATE 5: More spin control from Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in which he claims that Facebook’s philosophy is predicated on people owning their information and content. Alas, like the Facebook spokesman cited in the Standard article in Update 3, Zuckerberg does little to mollify the salient issue. You can have all the philosophy in the world, but it’s the language that exists in the terms that matters the most. Zuckerberg promises that “over time we will continue to clarify our positions and make the terms simpler.” He may want to think about speeding up that time window, because, according to Brian Stelter, a story is running in the New York Times tomorrow morning.

UPDATE 6: Facebook has revised its TOS back due to public outcry.

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43 Comments

  1. hey ed, I know you’ve already read it, but you have more readers than us, so i wanted to make the point in your comments that I think the Consumerist’s analysis that “Facebook can do whatever they want forever.” which touched off the firestorm of account deletions rather overstates the case of what the rights claimed in the Facebook Terms of Service are. For reference, the wetasphalt article is here: http://www.wetasphalt.com/?q=content/facebook-freakout

  2. The whole phenomenon is strange to me…I am writing a paper on the rise of narcissism in public life in the US, and it has definitely given me oodles of material, though.

    I had a facebook page for one day last year, then i realized the extreme pointlessness it held for me personally, so i left a message for all of my exhusband’s friends explaining that the physical abuse he inflicted on my head had left me with seizures. I considered that the end of it’s usefulness and deleted myself from the system and have never been back! (Unfortunately, I still take antiseizure medications but the ex is free to indulge his narcissistic fantasies and delusions of being a writer whilst wasting his time maintaining a “profile.” ) The ironic part is, he used to actually get paid to write but was fired from the local weekly last year, probably due to the difficulty of maintaining 3 myspace pages, 2 facebook pages and a blog or two. (i’ve been told that the multiple pages are for his “music career.” He’s 55 years old.) Thanks for letting me share TMI!

  3. You make a couple interesting points here. I’ll take them in turn:

    1. They can’t use it anyway they want as the TOS stipulate that the use has to be in connection with the Facebook Service or promoting it, which the TOS define explicitly as services and features provided Facebook branded websites and other media. Which means your likeness could be used in a Facebook ad but not in a Virgin Mobile ad. The point being that while reservations are probably warranted in using the service, saying that facebook can do ANYTHING with user content is just incorrect.

    2. We as a society haven’t yet worked out the ins and outs of intellectual property given the new ability to move information around. This is not a new problem as intellectual property law hasn’t ever been quite right even prior to the digital age, with congresses all over the world repeatedly acting in corporate interest to keep older property from falling into the public domain long after the original authors’ deaths. The question of where to draw the line between the public good and the right of an author in a capitalist society to profit from his or her works is a vexed one. Clearly DRM is a flawed solution, as it is too tight, open source is flawed in that it is too open, and while creative commons is a middle ground between those two poles I think it remains to be seen if it is the right middle ground. In any case, the question hypocrisy I think remains a real concern and while an argument can be made for creative commons, that doesn’t make it ok to just behave as if that’s the solution we’ve all come to and allow everyone free rights to non-commercial copy & distribution, which is what a creative commons community would suggest as a minimal standard. Control over those two rights are explicitly the most important protections for intellectual property owners in a marketplace.

    3. Your call for an IP attorney to do some analysis is well taken. My beef with the original article and the assumptions folks are making about the Facebook TOS based on it is precisely the fact that Chris Walters didn’t bother to talk to one before he wrote his post. Clearly this issue illustrates that Facebook has failed to clarify their terms of service as they stated they were trying to do with the Feb 4 update, but in the absence of that clarification I just think it’s irresponsible to jump to conclusions.

    4. Facebook is overreaching here, and I don’t want to defend them for what is clearly a stupid act and an unreasonable overreach that Google handled much better with Picasa and Youtube et at. That having been said, I also think it’s an overreaction to stop using facebook altogether if one finds aspects of the service useful. I’d never personally upload anything I wanted to retain exclusive rights to to Facebook, but I also don’t think there’s any danger of me getting cheated out of a Fortune by the innappropriate use of my likeness or my status updates. Nobody is ever going to stick my ugly mug on their packaging to try to sell more of their widgets, nor can I think of any way whatsoever to commercially exploit the contents of my “Little Green Patch.”

  4. That’s it for me. They can kiss my grits.

  5. […] Naturally, as per their statement in their TOS that they can change anything in said TOS at will without notice, no one was informed of this change. This has quite a few people in an uproar. […]

  6. zuckerberg can suckerberg my cock. twice.

    @missVolare
    your husband sounds like a classy guy. what kind of music does he write? (please say zydeco).
    at any rate, missV, tmi.

  7. […] Lots of folks are making that decision today:  I’m Done With Facebook : Edward Champion’s Reluctant Habits. […]

  8. […] to Facebook, at least until it’s all sorted out. For more information on this issue, go here, here, and here. Published by Tonya in Media and Society. Tags: Facebook, Facebook New Terms of […]

  9. […] I’m Done With Facebook : Edward Champion’s Reluctant Habits – But the Facebook language clearly dictates that you are giving Facebook an irrevocable and perpetual right to distribute and make derivative copies of content you upload to Facebook for any purpose. ANY. Whether it be a book, a film, or whatever other options Facebook may have cooked up. … (If you’ve already granted Facebook the irrevocable right to give up your content and likeness, then how can you still have “all rights and permissions?” Perhaps an IP attorney can sort out this thorny language.) Since Facebook has demonstrated no reservations in sharing private data with developers, the company’s history suggests that this same recurring invasion of privacy will carry forth under the new Terms of Service. The only difference is that Facebook now intends to profit from the content you upload, and they can now use it in any way they want, because you’ve capitulated all your rights to it. […]

  10. Three words that will terrify Facebook: class-action lawsuit!

  11. Welcome to Big Brother and 1984 all in one. This is the new era of big government you all voted for on November 4th.

  12. have removed all my photos on facebook. Im keeping my account but only for friends who dont have myspace. Im not letting facebook or anyone else use my photos to get money off them.

    It should be called fakebook!

  13. Facebook hates Chattanooga, Tennessee February 16, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    I immediately canceled my account upon reading this. Burn in hell, Facebook.

  14. I deleted my account tonight. I’ve seen this coming. 1984 is here.

  15. Rob… I actually used those three words (C.A.L) in my reason for leaving FB. I never use the damn service anyway. I only signed up because an old client of mine sent me an email to become a friend. Huh? God, I don’t have much of a life but I certainly don’t have time for that.
    I’ll communicate with my friends the old fashioned way… by texting. Ha.

  16. [[Recall Alison Chang, who saw her Flickr photo turned into a Virgin Mobile advertisement without her consent. ]]

    I’m sorry but this is a completely different issue. Alison Chang released her photo under the Creative Commons license – Attribution. Legally Virgin did exactly what they were supposed to do under this license. Miss Chang’s failure to understand the Creative Commons license (and, for the record, a failure that included procuring a Model Release from here friend before releasing the photo under the Creative Commons license – Attribution) has nothing to do with Facebook’s rights grab here.

    Alison Change specifically said “You may use this photo commercially” when she released the photo under the CC – Attribution license. This is very very different than Facebook’s moves here.

  17. […] I’m Done With Facebook (Edward Champion’s Reluctant Habits) […]

  18. Someone should get the owner of facebook’s email address so millions of people can start spamming his inbox with requests to delete all content. There is no way on the website to contact the administrators. This is completely ridiculous! Peace

  19. What kills me is if you look at the TOS from day one it has said almost the same thing. How do you think Facebook makes money.
    Collecting your info and selling it! I have been speaking about this for over two years… it was in the old TOS and Privacy policy.
    Google does the same thing.
    Yahoo in December announced (in a little press release when they should have made a big deal about it) that they will only collect and keep data for 90 days. Google keeps it forever, WHY!
    Maybe now people will really see what Facebook is all about, who they really care about… its not you.
    Heck the founder Stole the idea and you think he Cares about YOU… BS and if you believe that I have ocean front property to sell in Arizona!
    This is just the start of what Facebook is all about, wait and see or Get Off Facebook Now and hope for something better!

  20. […] done with Facebook,” declared blogger Ed Champion upon learning of the TOS […]

  21. […] A couple of weeks ago, Facebook changed their Terms of Use again without notifying its users. It basically grants itself an “irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license” to do anything they want with all our data. This license never expires and all your data will never be deleted, not even when you delete your account. The Blogosphere covers this in many places. […]

  22. Alexandria Kornoelje February 17, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    You may have mentioned this elsewhere in your article, but I have not read all of it-I’m supposed to being homework :). If you, however, have not addressed what I am about to ask, please do so… What exactly happens if someone already owns the rights to what you post, when the rights aren’t yours to give? What if you already own rights to something in general based on legal documentation? Does the new TOS revoke that? How does it work? How do they know who owns rights to what in order to dictate that they own it unquestionably once it is posted?

    Is it possible for us to copyright ourselves somehow? That would be a huge joke on facebook, would it not?

    People who try to compare this situation to downloading music illegally or to copying a picture seem to forget one key component. When you download music or copy a picture, it’s usually for you to enjoy-not monetarily profit from (other than saving money).

    FACEBOOK, as you have mentioned, claims the right to be able to market and profit monetarily from anyone’s content.

    It is absurd to commandeer what people upload on facebook specifically because it is advertised as a social networking site that can be used for sharing things socially. It is not advertised as a GARBAGE BIN for the rights to your own work OR image OR identity.

    On that note, perhaps I might sue them for false advertising??

    I’m sorry for this unanticipated rant. I dream of a day when people can remember the concept of humanity…using people as a means or motivation to improve humanity-NOT using people as a means to capital gain. Facebook’s new TOS is a blatant demonstration of the ever blurring line between humanity and profit; between intellectual freedom and intellectual slavery.

    There was a time when sites like Facebook were innovative and meaningful; they were a fantastic tool for people to connect and grow together at whatever distance.

    All good things the greedy man touches are doomed to destroy him in the very end. I ask all to consider the tale of the stone that “enabled” the one who touched it to turn anything else he touched to gold. The greedy man wishing to turn everything to gold shall eventually find himself alone.

    (My use of male specific pronouns is for simplicity purposes-not directed at men only).

    Thanks for letting me get on my pedestal.

  23. Fair points, Alexandria. The problem is that I had a feed from this blog siphoning into Facebook’s notes. Content here that took many hours to craft and shape, and that has very specific rights attached to it. The intent was to share content generated here with others, along the lines of a Creative Commons license. This was never an intent to grant Facebook rights to license the content for their use and profit. And the issue here, which is respected by every other social network (as seen in the link to Ms. French’s site), involves Facebook’s arrogant right to take the rights of your content even after you have deleted it from Facebook. So what this means is that if you uploaded a feed of your blog or something else you created, Facebook has usurped rights to possess it under a license. This is something that they have YET to clear up in its TOS, although Facebook has a limitless capacity for corporate bullshit. And nobody — certainly not me — gave these assholes permission to do so. The hubris here means that Facebook could take your content and transmit it rather liberally in its advertising, along the lines of Bauman and Chang. That is why this is such an important issue. And that is why you must reject Facebook for failing to respect the rights of its users.

  24. Alexandria Kornoelje February 18, 2009 at 12:15 am

    FURTHERMORE! Facebook,as I mentioned, is advertised as a social networking agent. It also permits PRIVACY tools so you can select who views your content.

    Does this not INHERENTLY IMPLICATE privacy? If I select “only me” as being able to view my photos…Why does that only stand insofar what is viewable in my profile? Is it false advertising for Facebook to imply you have the right to choose who views your content yet still allow people to see your content by OTHER means?

    For people who like to play smart by saying “duh”, I question how firmly grounded in reality you are. You are the reason that things like this stand, why they perpetuate and expand their boundaries.

    If an 8 year old signs up for facebook (no ‘safety’ box or parent can truly prevent what a child fervently intends to do), but does not understand the conditions being that he is legally a minor….how is it that facebook can nonetheless lay claim to his content? He is not even considered mentally capable of forfeiting rights as a minor…

    Those who are able to critically think about a subject beyond the depth of the term “duh”, those who can think about the innate ethics and potential consequences NEED to draw the line.

    If we let superficial thinkers continue to make the decisions and remain in the majority that dictate what goes…we’re screwed.

  25. Nonsense, Alexandria. Facebook changed the TOS without fully alerting its users. It usurped the content created by users without alerting them, and gave them no reasonable way out. And it continues spin control by claiming that the rights belong to the users when the TOS dictate otherwise. Facebook never stopped to consider that there were indeed rights tied up to content being shared with users. To offer a comparison, when you install a Windows patch, you get an EULA to click every time. You received no such option with the new Facebook TOS. This represents a lack of transparency and a lack of decency. If Zuckerberg tried that kind of thing in a bar, he’d be beaten to a pulp.

  26. I just logged in to facebook and at the top of my home page there was an announcement that facebook is reverting back to their former TOU.

    I don’t have much stake (which isn’t true for so many others) in what I’ve posted on there, so I didn’t particularly care if it is 1984 (my birth-year, so I can’t get too pessimistic about those numerals), because if facebook doesn’t get me, google will, so I might as do what Wendell Berry recommended and make like a fox.

  27. And what I forgot to add is that we still have to wait and see if they stick to the old way. After all, they changed so quickly last time.

  28. […] users — like blogger Ed Champion — have refused to continue their involvement with Facebook, while celebrity blogger (and […]

  29. Keep in mind,if they did this once (on the sly,) it shows you their mindset, and they will most likely try again after the brouhaha dies down. What really scares me is all the kids that use these sites that have no clue about “legalese.”

  30. […] Outrage is well documented throughout the blog-o-sphere. […]

  31. phyllis Greenberg February 18, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    This site helped destroy a relationship by asking questions that were inappropriate and I had no idea what was going on…..Therefore this fellow thought I was conjuring up questions and answers that could potentially destroy his career…..One question regarding my brother was ” Do you think this man is Gay” Im not sure what this is all about…..My brother is happily married and a Professor…..If you dont know what you are doing? It can ruin your life!

  32. Hey Ed – does this backflip mean you’re going to rejoin FB?

  33. […] une solution gratuite de contrats de droit d’auteur flexible comme le propose l’écrivain Edward Champion dans on article sur le sujet, “Creative […]

  34. […] content are belong to us. FOREVER! Protests ensue., Beware of Facebook’s New Terms of Service, I’m Done With Facebook , Interview with “People Against the new Terms of Service”, Facebook and their TOS – Alice, this […]

  35. […] content are belong to us. FOREVER! Protests ensue., Beware of Facebook’s New Terms of Service, I’m Done With Facebook , Interview with “People Against the new Terms of Service”, Facebook and their TOS – Alice, this […]

  36. Sadly, most people would not have looked closely enough to notice the change in Facebook’s Terms of Service… looks them social networkers are doing a good job of looking out for each other

  37. Mr JF Quackenbush, you state on February 16th: “1. They can’t use it anyway they want as the TOS stipulate that the use has to be in connection with the Facebook Service or promoting it, which the TOS define explicitly as services and features provided Facebook branded websites and other media. Which means your likeness could be used in a Facebook ad but not in a Virgin Mobile ad. The point being that while reservations are probably warranted in using the service, saying that facebook can do ANYTHING with user content is just incorrect.”

    I think you’d better read again Facebook’s TOS: “By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing.”

    What part of “grant to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual world wide license, with the right to SUBLICENSE, to use for ANY purpose, COMMERCIAL, advertising or otherwise” do you not understand?

  38. I believe this new agreement mainly applies to the use of profile information in third party ads on Facebook. If you notice, you’ll see ads on there with friends’ names inserted right into them. Anyway, there is an opt-out that allows the user to remove their profile from these ads entirely, IF I remember correctly, in ‘my Account’ under ‘Privacy’..
    There is also an issue with Beacon web sites linking to Facebook which I find pretty questionable. Facebook has an arrangement which allows affiliated Beacon websites, such as Yelp to send information back to Facebook about a user’s activity on their sites. This arrangement can be opted out of in ‘Applications’ under ‘Privacy’.

  39. I R A Darth Aggie February 25, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    It was asked:

    If you’ve already granted Facebook the irrevocable right to give up your content and likeness, then how can you still have “all rights and permissions?”

    You still retain all rights because you still hold the copyright. In the USofA, you can give up copyright by placing something in the public domain, or you must sign away your copyrights via an “instrument of conveyance”. This is discussed in US Code Title 17, Section 204.

  40. […] can make a difference in this. We made a difference back in February with the Facebook TOS snafu. We can make a difference with this needless and demeaning ranking system. Boycott Amazon. Because […]

  41. Blogger has copyright similiar language; whether you, someone else or broad civil action I’ll be curious to see what happens over the years as it srikes me a canvas and paintcompany arguing they own whatever the painter produces.

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