The Facebook Controversy

Facebook is one of the world’s largest social media networks. According the latest report Facebook now rakes in more visitors than its largest competitor, MySpace. Facebook had about 10 million more unique visitors for the month of January, to be exact. Making it the number one social media network.

Now that Facebook has stolen the social media spotlight there is controversy all over the web about the social networking giant. Unlike MySpace, the debate isn’t about the number of sex offenders prowling the website, the controversy surrounding Facebook is about their Terms of Service (TOS). Facebook has always had very controversial privacy policy but a recent update to their terms of service has some users wondering if Facebook and founder, Mark Zuckerberg, have gone too far.

The new TOS has been changes to allow Facebook full, permanent ownership of any and all content that one uploads or posts to the site forever even if that user deletes the content or their account. That includes pictures, notes, messages and everything in between. Many Facebook users are still angry over the changes and have planned a worldwide deletion on March 1st, 2009.

“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.”

Facebook has been on the defensive since the new terms of service were implemented saying, “We are not claiming and have never claimed ownership of material that users upload. The new terms were clarified to be more consistent with the behavior of the site. That is, if you send a message to another user (or post to their wall, etc.), that content might not be removed by Facebook if you delete your account (but can be deleted by your friend),” Barry Schnitt, Facebook spokesman.

Facebook has faced publicity blenders over their privacy policy before. When Beacon and Facebook partnered together they tracked users’ credit-card use and posted purchases in users’ news feeds. Facebook didn’t even notify its users that the policy had been changed. The fact that users weren’t notified via e-mail of such a drastic change has made many irate. Users are now questioning the morality of Facebook and Zuckerberg. Protests and anti-Facebook TOS groups are already underway. Facebook tends to push the buttons on users privacy a little too far. Did Facebook go too far again?

Facebook has changed their TOS back to the original version according to a blog they recently posted. They are going to re-write the terms to a much more user friendly. They’ve even created a Facebook TOS feedback group. One thing is for sure, Facebook usually listens to users’ feedback. Now if only they would remove the 5,000 friend limit.

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