Facebook has once again hit the headlines: this time over a subtle change made to their Terms of Service. They have deleted a line relating to their use of your content that said ” If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content”.
The licence granted above it refers to is the ” 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.”
According to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg the changes were made to ensure that if a user deletes his or her account any comments or messages he or she had left on a friend’s Facebook page would not also disappear, adding that ‘In reality, we wouldn’t share your information in a way you wouldn’t want’.
That’s all well and good, and if that’s the case I happen to think that’s a sensible idea and Zuckerberg is right. If people have made comments on my Wall etc, I would hope those comment remained if they left the site. However, that isn’t what the change on the terms actually says or said. So, if that is the intention Mark and Facebook, why not just say that CLEARLY in the ToS? It goes back to the whole plane English thing for me - say what you mean in a way that people can understand clearly.
To be fair to Zuckenberg he does acknowledge the problems stating both that “We still have work to do to communicate more clearly about these issues, and our terms are one example of this.” and that “A lot of the language in our terms is overly formal and protective of the rights we need to provide this service to you. Over time we will continue to clarify our positions and make the terms simpler.”
Let me reach out the helping hand Mark. I’ve given this two seconds though and come up with:
“If you choose to remove, close or delete your account, user content you have posted to other users’ accounts will remain on the site until such time as that user deletes their account”
There, that wasn’t hard was it?
One final point about the terms.The removal of those final two lines does as least take away the interesting question of how can you have a “irrevocable, perpetual …licence” that can expire? Wouldn’t the use of irrevocable and perpetual indicate that the licence cannot be undone and is for eternity ??
Update: It seems the old terms have been restored. So, the “irrevocable, perpetual …licence” that can expire is back.
Facebook is now calling on its users to help them craft new terms that are clear and keep the user in control of their content. Questions, comments and requests can be added in the Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities group.