Every single day people, arguable most, blindly accept companies’ TOS (“terms of service”). They unresistingly click “I Agree” to whatever legal jargon is in between them and their desired product or service. Why? People trust the companies have their best interest in mind. They trust, for example, that the photos they post to Facebook are not thrown up on a billboard on I-5, or a silly comment they made on a friend’s wall will live on for eternity.
It comes down to people believing Mark Zuckerberg when he says, “We wouldn’t share your information in a way you wouldn’t want. The trust you place in us as a safe place to share information is the most important part of what makes Facebook work.”
However, in light of Facebook’s recent attempt to discreetly change their TOS without user buy in, Zuckerberg’s words resonate as mere pleasantries. Why did Facebook quietly, and in turn deceptively, try to change their TOS? Why didn’t they build on their trust with users by openly (possibly collaboratively) re-working their original content license? Why weren’t users asked to re-sign off on the terms? What about a mass notification? Facebook sure didn’t have a difficult time sending one when they reverted back to their original TOS.
I understand that TOS on the internet, especially those set out by social networking sites, will continually evolve. It is just a matter of how they evolve. Just as an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution underscores, “The issue of who controls the data posted to the site is a massive gray area that continues to evolve as Internet companies and consumers shape social norms of how to define trust in the digital age and share their lives through new technology.”
That being said, I believe that until we have settled on an industry standard, agreeing to a company’s TOS has to be done with a degree of trust and knowledge that you are giving up quite a bit of power and ownership to the website operator.
Facebook’s Users Ask Who Owns Information
Facebook’s terms-of-service change has users abuzz
Facebook’s New Terms Of Service: “We Can Do Anything We Want With Your Content. Forever.”
Facebook Clarifies Terms Of Service: “We Do Not Own Your Stuff Forever”