In response to the outcry, Mark Zuckerberg posted a defence of the conditions on the Facebook blog. Here are some selected quotes:
In reality, we wouldn’t share your information in a way you wouldn’t want. The trust you place in us as a safe place to share information is the most important part of what makes Facebook work. Our goal is to build great products and to communicate clearly to help people share more information in this trusted environment.
This is a slightly extended version of the comment I posted to the blog in response (comments don’t seem to be displayed anywhere so I can’t link it).
First of all, I don’t “place my trust in Facebook” – I know you’re only interested in preserving user rights and privacy to the extent that this aligns with maximising shareholder value. I tolerate Facebook only because so many of my friends and relatives use it that to do otherwise would be to alienate myself. It’s a compromise I was comfortable with until you changed your terms and conditions.
There is a difference between a license to display content to other users (necessary to make the site work) and a license that allows Facebook to exploit user-generated content for its own benefit. It’s the latter that I object to.
Your comparison with email doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. There is no monopoly on the email distribution channel and anyone may access the system from their service provider of choice. No email company would dare use the contents of someone’s inbox in their advertising!
You say that you have never claimed to “take ownership” of user content, but why would you need to when you instead take such a broad license that you can do anything you like with our content, with our without our consent? You might not own the content but you can act as if you do.
You should compare your terms and conditions with those of other social networking sites. Places such as Flickr and YouTube grant themselves fewer and more clearly delimited rights. Their legal teams seem comfortable with this – why isn’t yours?
- Join this Facebook protest group
- Leave a comment on the Facebook blog expressing your concerns.
- Write a note like this one on your Facebook profile to warn your friends
- Remove from your Facebook profile any third-party applications that post content on your behalf and stop using “post to facebook” links on other people’s sites.
- Don’t post anything to Facebook that you wouldn’t be happy seeing splashed across a 40′ billboard in your home town (you don’t do this anyway, right?)