UPDATE: Here's a PR storm that happened very fast. On Sunday, the Consumerist blog wrote about Facebook's terms of service change. Monday it spread across the blogosphere. By late Monday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg issued a statement. He attempted to explain the change in service and admited the company needs to improve its communications. This PR Junkie post was written as the story unfolded Monday.
Funny thing, privacy. When the Bush administration wanted to randomly tap phones Americans cried foul. “You’re invading our privacy!” We proudly declared.
Yet every day hundreds of millions of people worldwide voluntarily share their private information with Facebook. And now Facebook has changed its terms of service.
Have you heard about these changes that took place February 4?
The new terms of service say Facebook now owns everything you post to the site, which it can use commercially— and “sublicense” to third-party vendors—even after you delete your account.
Here’s what it says:
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. You represent and warrant that you have all rights and permissions to grant the foregoing licenses.
And this …
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.
Despite an outcry from the blogosphere and coverage in the mainstream media, Facebook's PR team was apparently caught off-guard. On Monday, they told a Tribune reporter they were preparing a response.
Again, Facebook made this change to its terms of service February 4 and two weeks later the PR team is still preparing a response. Someone should be fired.
ZDNet blogger Jennifer Leggio wrote on Twitter Monday: "Facebook PR team seems bitter about the [terms of service] hubbub. An email I got: 'For those of you who aren't working (like we were supposed to be)' heh."
Bloggers have suggested this is a coup on Facebook’s part to finally start making serious bucks on the social network that counts 300 million members. Sadly, the tone among bloggers is, “Oh well, Facebook outsmarted us. But we’ll continue posting our personal information and pictures to the site.”
Thousands of members have launched a protest—on Facebook, a People Against the new Terms of Service group. Instead, maybe it’s time to pull the plug on your account. Remember, only you can prevent Facebook from peddling your information to the highest bidder.