My beef with FaceBook and W & P Q #8

I can guarantee that you’re not reading this on FaceBook. Why? I’ve stopped blogging there.

I love FaceBook. It has a great design and tools that make it much easier to use than MySpace. I’ve connected with hundreds of old friends and new readers there. One of the features I loved about it was the ability to directly stream this blog into my FB account.

No more.

I turned that blogging feature off yesterday, thanks to a note on Stacy Whitman’s blog that led me to this Consumerist article examining the very quiet change Facebook recently made to their Terms of Service (TOS).

I feel like FB is trying to have it both ways; writing the legal TOS language to give them blanket access to content, should they one day want to produce, oh say, a book of Best Blogs of 2009. Or a CD with Cutest Baby Photos Ever. Or Frat Guys Gone Wild and Photographed While Unconscious. At same time, they get to act all surprised and offended, “What! We weren’t gonna do that. No way!” and refuse to change the legal language that would make the issue go away.

The New York Times today quotes writer Sasha Frere-Jones as saying that FaceBook CEO Mark Zuckerman’s response to the protest “is just the modern version of ‘Ignore the fine print, ma’am, just sign here,’”

If Zuckerman truly believes what he said in the Times article, that “the philosophy “that people own their information and control who they share it with has remained constant,” then he can very easily tell the company’s lawyers to tweak the TOS language to reflect that.

Come on, Mark. You know it’s the right thing to do. I don’t have anything against good business models that turn a profit for entrepreneurs. I adore capitalism. But when you start putting your sticky fingers on other people’s intellectual property, then you’re turning into a Robber Baron. You’re better than that. Fix the TOS.

Until that happens, you can find this blog on LiveJournal and MySpace.

And now, back to writing questions.

You wrote: What do you read, outside of researching and work?

I’m reading and reading an incredible book of poetry that I recommend to everyone: Blood Dazzler by Patricia Smith I was lucky enough to hear her speak at NCTE in San Antonio (our paths crossed at the National Book Awards, too, but we didn’t get a chance to talk). I think she’s one of the most talented poets writing today.

In fiction, I’m about to start Soul Enchilada, by David Maciness Gill. I read more non-fiction than fiction (I don’t want too many other fictional voices in my head when I’m writing, that’s why.) I just finished Eden’s Outcasts:: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father and now I’m reading
Edith Wharton, which is, yes, a wonderful biography of Edith Wharton.

Before I get to work, a couple of people inquired about Number One Son based on yesterday’s photo. He is almost 17, but don’t get your hopes up. He has a wonderful girlfriend and is not looking elsewhere.

Scribblescribblescribble…

19 Replies to “My beef with FaceBook and W & P Q #8”

  1. Ooh – will pick up Blood Dazzler. You know I like my poetry.

    And I’ve got Eden’s Outcasts in my TBR pile. Is it worth bumping up, or can I continue to let it lurk about on the shelf for a while?

    *remains pleased at not having Facebook acct, although I did sign on to Twitter*

  2. I have another writing question, which is:

    When you are working on one book and ideas for another story pop up, what do you do? Do you just jot down quick notes or do you allow those story threads to be captured and then return to your WIP? I can see how a new story can distract one from a current WIP, but also that you would not want to lose the new story either.

    Thanks for the heads-up on FB.

  3. Urgh, I spent four years of High School going over intellectual property rights laws, including the ones about blogging, etc. It’s atrocious that Facebook wants to reserve the right to lay claim on their users material. But unfortunately, more and more internet lawyers are realizing that that little tid-bit can lead to big ca-ching later on.
    The worst example is turnitin.com, which is a website used by teachers all over America to check for plagiarism and have students submit their work. Basically, you upload your essay, etc. onto their server and your teacher grades it from there.
    The downside?
    Once submitted, the website takes legal ownership of what you have written.

    Is the book about Louisa May Alcott and her father about the (some would say unhealthy) admiration she had of him? It was one of the more obvious traits of Jo’s character in Little Women as well, especially since the man Jo ends up marrying was based on Mr. Alcott!

  4. I admit I haven’t read the new TOS from Facebook, but I have been wondering at what they would do about content that has clearly been copyrighted before being posted, ie: book covers, book trailers, author videos or other intellectual property for which a strong copyright argument could be made.

  5. facebook tos & “Speak”

    Just wanted to let you know that our Mother/Daughter Book Club has selected “Speak” as our book for March. Our girls are all in the 8th grade, 13 & 14 years old. My daughter & several of the other girls had already read it. I didn’t know what it was about. I want to say I was speechless. It is a sensitive & uncomfortable topic but you are right, it has to be discussed. It is such an important book for all of us to read. I think this book will provide the perfect opportunity for us to hear what our girls are thinking about the topic and to us mom’s to talk to them about it. They are approaching the age of Melinda and will surely need to be aware of potential situations like hers. Thanks so much giving us all a book that speaks volumes about a difficult topic and will give us a more comfortable way to voice our concerns. I will let you know how the meeting turns out.

    Lee Ann Brown
    http://www.glamoursurvivalguides.com

    P.S. Thanks for the heads up about Facebook. I also have concerns about this and will check into this.

  6. The FB TOC is indeed bothersome. I’ve followed your lead and am no longer feeding my LJ posts to FB. I don’t post any of my work on my blogs so it isn’t a big deal for me. My bigger concern is with my daughter who is studying photography and posts some of her photos there. I’ve passed on the information and told her to discuss it with her instructors and other classmates.

    Happy scribbling.

  7. Facebook TOS

    Thanks very much for the info on Facebook. I visited the links in your post, and decided to discontinue publishing my blog on my FB page, as well. It is very disappointing, to say the least…

  8. I just joined FB so I could talk to old friends I haven’t seen in years. Your warning concerns me because I created a photo album on there with pics of my own artwork. I don’t want someone else profiting off my hard work when I don’t make any off it.

  9. Facebook is world wide now. I think there would be an uproar from users, and a lot of people leaving the website. Me included. I’m a multi”talented” artist who posts photography, drawings, and jewelry that I make for a bit of exposure to my friends I suppose. It’s noting worth using for them, but if they did use it, I’d be out ASAP.

    Mind you, if they plan on adding my name to the bottom, it could be a positive thing XD

  10. Facebook

    I’m not sure yet what to make of Facebook’s changes. I’m fuzzy on what exactly this means for creative works uploaded to the site. To me, that’s the biggest issue. I don’t really care if I cancel my account and a message I sent someone remains in their inbox, or a comment remains on someone’s wall. And that’s what the CEO seems to be saying this is all about. I guess this is where clearer wording by Facebook specifically addressing the usage and ownership of personal and creative works would be helpful.

    I did read this response from a Facebook spokesperson, which is somewhat reassuring. According to this, your privacy settings matter in the ownership of what you post. For example, if you have your photos set to only be visible to friends they will honor that and not compile that unconscious photo of you with permanent marker all over your face into Frat Guys Gone Wild.
    http://www.thestandard.com/news/2009/02/16/facebook-we-have-never-claimed-ownership-members-content

    1. Re: Facebook

      I read that.

      I’m still concerned for the artists, filmmakers, photographers, musicians, and writers who have placed their artistic content on Facebook and use the platform as a way to connect people to their art. These folks are interested in the most visibility and are unlikely to have privacy filters in place. That defeats the purpose.

      It could be that Facebook does not want to be a platform for that kind of thing. If so, I wish they’d just say it.

      The English language allows for unmistakable clarity, when necessary. I don’t understand why Facebook does not adjust the TOS to reflect what the recent press releases have said.

      That’s what’s puzzling and irritating me.

  11. wow, thank you for bringing this to our attention!! i am going to let my friends know. I never had facebook…i wasn’t really keen on it…now i’m glad i never did!!

  12. facebook

    it is true. i heard that on the view, which i have neveer watched in my life except for today. and it appealed to me because i am 17 and use facebook constantly…as a matter of fact, im on now talking to my boyfriend. it is addicting and facebook creators are clearly trying to find a loophole to try and be like myspace.

    by the way congrats on number one son and his swimming. i used to swim and i loved it.

  13. Oh the interwebz are all fired up about this issue. It’s insane.

    Not even Myspace has a clause like that. All they need to do is remove that one little clause.

  14. Thanks so much for the heads up regarding FB. Although I am rather careful with postings, your comments will make me much more aware of changes in control/usage with intellectual property.

    BTW…I’m really enjoying reading your answers to the questions readers submitted. Thanks for taking the time to share your vast knowledge!

  15. Facebook Responds

    This was posted this morning on Facebook:

    Over the past few days, we have received a lot of feedback about the new terms we posted two weeks ago. Because of this response, we have decided to return to our previous Terms of Use while we resolve the issues that people have raised. For more information, visit the Facebook Blog.

    If you want to share your thoughts on what should be in the new terms, check out our group Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.

  16. I don’t like Facebook all that much. I only signed up to it so I could keep in contact with a few friends who won’t contact me anywhere else.

    And capitalism sucks. I mean, it’s why we’re in the financial mess we’re in. I sometimes think that if the Western world was more like China, it would be a better place. We don’t need to beas harsh as China, but I think we need to advertise less and bring in a sterilisation programme so that the world doesn’t get too overcrowded. That way we can provide for future generations. Oh yeah! And one last thing that really pisses me off and I feel has got to be THE unfairest thing ever: people who earn ridiculously high wages. I mean, sure, be successful and all that. I’m all for that, but not at the expense of the world. Bring loving kindness into the world by either lowering the wages of those people who get paid $40 million or whatever a week, or introduce a taxation programme for people who have those wages and put the extra money into public services and/or helping other needy countries and people abroad. After all, everyone on this planet are brothers and sisters. It’s up to us to not get too selfish over here and forget about everyone else. Simply put, everyone in the world doesn’t have a meal to go to per day because of greed and lack of loving kindness. Sorry. I just feel very strongly about this.

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