As I was sitting down to a nice comfortable night at home I was alerted via Twitter about a change in the Terms of Service (TOS) at Facebook that could be pretty significant. Since I am not totally aware of the protocol for referencing tweets as sources, I will simply give you the whole deal here so the right people can get their Twitter props:
@Mack Collier: RT @jeremymeyers: RT @NealWiser: Facebook Now OWNS Your Content? http://bit.ly/lEobm Please Re-Tweet (via @perrybelcher)
The source of all of this concern is an article on The Consumerist site. It appears that Facebook has changed its terms to imply that they own your content on your Facebook page in perpetuity whether you have your account open or not. While many of us are not too concerned about that fact because of the nature of the content we put on Facebook there may be some that whose hearts skip a beat or two with this knowledge.
I am not a lawyer and I have never played one on TV and I did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night so when I did a compare and contrast of the old TOS (from May 2007 which seemed a bit old to me) to the current TOS (February 4, 2009) I could see that there had been some change as reported by the Consumerist. Of course, the entire structure of the terms had been switched around a bit which may have been a tactic to make it harder to detect such a change. I don’t know. Legal things are left to legal people for a reason.
So Facebook may or may not have pulled a fast one. You decide. Here’s the question though. With all of the online services that many readers use daily, from major to obscure ones, how many of you completely read the Terms of Service for everything? For that matter, how many of you look for revisions to these terms? If we are not paying attention are we opening ourselves to this kind of action that can put us at some risk? No matter how we view Facebook’s change it should serve as a warning to be careful where we sign on the dotted line.
Update: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg explains the changes.