Facebook is on its way to trademarking the word “Face,” but don’t worry, you won’t have to change your lingo to “Get out of my countenance” any time soon. According to Inside Facebook, the trademark application only applies when the word “face” is used in specific circumstances. Here’s the language of the application:
Telecommunication services, namely, providing online chat rooms and electronic bulletin boards for transmission of messages among computer users in the field of general interest and concerning social and entertainment subject matter, none primarily featuring or relating to motoring or to cars.
The first part I get, but cars? Is Facebook going into the automobile dealer business? (Facemobiles?)
I can’t begrudge a company trying to protect its turf but are they really worried that someone will confuse Joe’s Faceforum with the one and only Facebook?
What Facebook clearly does worry about is being mocked. TechCrunch reported that Facebook was blocking any mention of parody site Lamebook, even in private messages sent through the system. They show a message that says their Lamebook message was abusive or spam. I sent a message with the word in it and it wasn’t blocked, so perhaps they’ve changed their stance.
Facebook is in the process of suing Lamebook for copyright infringement so it does seem like an odd accident (as Facebook claims in a response to TechCrunch) that Lamebook was being blocked.
But all of this begs the question of just how “big brother” Facebook is going to be when they get their new message system up and running. If their trademark on “face” goes through, will they block messages that they feel uses the word improperly? Facebook doesn’t allow adult content on the site, but what if I want to send a passage from my favorite erotica novel to a friend via the messaging system?
Facebook isn’t owned by the huddled masses, so they can ban whatever they want from its public pages, but once they offer themselves up as a private message system, that’s a different story.
What do you think? Does Facebook have a right to censor private messages sent using their servers?