Over the weekend the Consumerist blog started a bit of a cyberstorm when it pointed out that recent revisions to the Facebook terms of service removed a provision that used to say all Facebook’s rights to your content terminated if you deleted your account.
I was interviewed about it today on NPR’s All Things Considered, where I tried to make three simple but crucial points:
1. This is not a very significant change. Facebook, like many sites, claims quite sweeping rights in the content you post, requiring you to waive both intellectual property and privacy-like claims you might make against their use of that content. Greg Lastowka made much the same point in the New York Times this morning.
2. Incidents like this do make people realize how much control they routinely surrender over their personal information. Even if the new rules don’t represent much of a change, it is a teachable moment for people to understand what broad rights Facebook and other sites already claim.
3. This is yet another example of poor transparency by Facebook — so ironic considering their whole business is built on the model of open information sharing. Just as in the Beacon and News Feed controversies, the company has done something stealthily and invited a backlash that now has founder Mark Zuckerberg scrambling to explain (exactly like he needed to do here and here).