Left Bay’s Musings on the Media

Searching for answers in sales and marketing

Facebook’s Terms of Service

I’ve been watching the discussions about Facebook’s process for revising their Terms of Service, and I have to say, I’m impressed with the manner in which they’ve solicited user input. For those who haven’t been following the matter, the uproar started in February when Facebook made changes in their TOS that made it seem it was claiming a perpetual license to material uploaded to the social network. After a huge backlash by bloggers and others, the company backed off and said that wasn’t really what they meant. What evolved was a new process that included soliciting input from users.

On the company blog, Facebook’s Simon Axten says that on April 16, the company will post revised versions of the documents based on the feedback they’ve received. “We’ll also be sharing a written response to the main concerns people have expressed. This will explain in clear language why we did — or did not — make certain changes. This is similar to how U.S. federal agencies create regulations.

“At the same time, we’ll be asking people to vote on the new revised documents.”

Terms of Services are amazing documents. I’m writing one now for one of my clients. Basically, they set out the site rules — what users can expect by accessing a site and what they have to give up by doing so. While I’ve found it fairly straight-forward addressing privacy concerns like the use of cookies, I’ve been more challenged deciding how content can be used when it wasn’t originally created by my client. Heck, can I even say that I have specific customers who are using my client’s product? While good manners would suggest that I always ask for their permission to use or say anything about them, can I do so anyway? To me, that’s the crux of the Facebook problem: Who owns what’s posted on their site?

In the case of Facebook, you have from April 16 to April 23 to comment on it.

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