You may have seen it, Facebook is updating its terms of service — you know, that document no one reads but everyone agrees to when they sign up to services online.
For over a year, Facebook has had a practice to allow 7,000 Facebook users to solicit a public vote over a proposed change in the terms. That is undeniably a good policy, unlike Twitter’s we can change the terms at any time and we will notify you if we decide so with a simple tweet from @Twitter or an email.
By the way, for those who don’t remember, Twitter has substantially changed their terms of service in 2009, adopting a radically different approach to your copyright. Whereas before Twitter claimed no copyright license and encouraged users to publish their tweets under a free copyright license like Creative Commons or Public Domain, they now state: “you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).”
But, enough about Twitter. Let’s go back to Facebook. The company, certainly with the IPO operation and some other contextual elements, decided to update their Terms of Service. According to these terms at the time, when Facebook makes a proposal for change:
If more than 7,000 users comment on the proposed change, we will also give you the opportunity to participate in a vote in which you will be provided alternatives.
So that’s what happened in April 2012. People from the Europe v. Facebook campaign launched a platform to encourage people to comment. And that worked, so Facebook organised a vote. An overwhelming majority of the users who participated voted against the changes. However, as the terms stated:
The vote shall be binding on us if more than 30% of all active registered users as of the date of the notice vote.
Needless to say, taking into account the fact that the vote was very poorly advertised outside and inside Facebook, this ratio of 30% of the active users (for a total of users around 900 million!) does not represent a big risk for Facebook.
So anyway, Facebook published their new Terms. Unfortunately, after a couple of hours browsing through their pages, I was unable to find a document referencing the changes. Fortunately, I was watching them for a while already when I started taking over the ToS;DR project (Terms of Service; Didn’t Read). More on that project later
In a nutshell, the new Statement of Rights and Responsibilities remains pretty much the same. They reflect better the way Facebook deals with data and information from people who are not Facebook users (which demonstrates how much Facebook can track everyone online). Some interesting bits:
If more than 7,000 users post a substantive comment on a particular proposed change,
What’s emphasized has been added. So it looks like it will be more difficult to solicit a public vote.
Facebook offers social reporting tools to enable users to provide feedback about tagging.
So a new feature that might be useful. I have no idea what it relates to however, since I don’t have a Facebook account any more.
You will not use our copyrights or trademarks (including Facebook, the Facebook and F Logos, FB, Face, Poke, Book and Wall), or any confusingly similar marks, except as expressly permitted by our Brand Usage Guidelines or with our prior written permission.
Yeah, that’s right, you’ve read well. Facebook now claims trademarks on the words “Face,” “Book,” and “Wall.”