I read Mark Zuckerberg’s blog titled “On Facebook, People Own and Control Their Information” and thought.
I remember a time when I regretted that my phone number appeared on the printed phone directory. Once the directory was printed and circulated there was nothing I could do to change it, delete it, retrieve it or make it go away. Hundreds of thousands of people had this private information at their disposal.
I waited a whole year till the next directory was published without my details, and hoped that people quickly dumped the older, out of date, copy.
But the online life actually awards us better opportunities to control our information, even if it’s slightly more complicated.
True, we cannot control information that was already circulated, distributed, copied or passed on to our friends and contacts, and their friends and contacts. But why not enable us full control on those items which we have published or uploaded and are identified with us? This control should be definitely ours.
Not according to Facebook. Here is the phrasing of their new terms of service, the problematic part only:
“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.”
Facebook is assuming ownership of copyrighted material. How does that settle even with the friendliest CC? They think they have a right to use any information I put on Facebook for their own commercial gain – and to use it not only when I am using Facebook, but forever. It’s as if Flickr or Picasa will suddenly decide they own all the photos on their servers and can use them for commercial gain however they like.
To be honest, I can’t imagine giving up Facebook at the moment. I am using other networks too. Good old LinkedIn at the top, and Twitter, as one of the recent I joined. But Facebook somehow allows the mixed networking of formal and non formal, friends and family, business and fun. If you want to hear and be heard – Facebook is your main channel. You need to learn of events and happenings – this is the way. There isn’t a day I don’t visit my Facebook homepage at least once, mostly more.
But I must admit I will think twice before tagging images of myself, not to mention uploading any photos I’ve taken, adding notes or blogs or any other creations. I don’t mind very much, though, about my personal profile. Mainly because I carefully created this online profile and coordinated it with my profiles on other networks as well. I carefully chose the information I wanted to post and the information I should keep to myself. On a standard Facebook profile page one is asked, for example, on political views or religion – things that are definitely not for public sharing and eternal storing.
Back to print. I gave someone a business card. Actually, believe it or not, it was on an Internet World convention a thousand years ago. On the back I wrote my private Yahoo email address. I was recently contacted by this person. Looks like my business card survived “for ever”. But I didn’t mind the survival of such info forever. My yearbook photo also exists forever. So what?
However, if the poems I wrote to my high school sweetheart when I was 17 were suddenly published, because I was once a member of some club or network who chose to store and own it – I might have been slightly embarrassed. To some people their past creations, photos or publications can be even detrimental, financially or socially.
My suggestion? Think twice about the information you are donating to Facebook, oops, sorry, publishing on Facebook.