Facebook Proposed Rights and Responsibilities

Facebook is going through an upheaval of their legal principles: a praise-worthy initiative, but by opening the sausage factory, they let us see how horrible the whole thing is. I already vehemently criticised the Principles; let me point at the contradiction between that rosy, fluffy document and the real lawyer thing: “We are the World, we love the children” and “You are allowed to do anything between consenting adults” turned into Nothing objectionable in any way, you comply with DMCA (even if you live in a country that hasn’t signed this madness). Let’s dive:

This text “Proposed Statement of Rights & Responsibilities” (please open next to this window: I’ll refer to it all the time) is actually a translation in English of the usual legalese that no one reads and that is generally as binding as what its own contradiction and common sense let go through a judge’s mind.

1. Privacy. Not sure why that document has to be separate. No big deal.

2. Sharing: I still hate that idea that we are ‘owner’ of content, and not its ‘authors’, but I guess this is because ‘content’ includes logs, involuntary traces of our activity.  This might explain the surprising “For content that is covered by intellectual property rights-”, although re-using our traces might need a licence too.

3. “You will not send or otherwise post unauthorized commercial communications” Authorized by whom? Isn’t there high principles in favour of ‘freedom of communication’ in the neighbouring document (that are about to be trampled)? The list includes impossible to enforce elements and broad considerations, and neglects the possibility of consensual communication. Symmetrically, the Principles ignore the need for Policing the exchange of information that is not pre-approved communication.

4. Registration: nothing to say, except that I like the: “You will not provide any false personal information on Facebook/You will keep your contact information accurate and up-to-date.” that might have some Orwellian overtones but actually challenges truth in identity; oh, and that 4.3 is surprisingly stern compared to the Principle 10 — a little bit like the poster saying: “Welcome to NY! I<3NY!” in the airport, next to the TSA agent that looks you right in the eye and announces you just won a cavity search.

5 to 8 are actually quite boilerplate. (Well, 8.2 should clarify that some links are not to be shared, and explain why and how — but once again: they do a decent job at bridging the contradictions between something legible and a court-enforceable text; although I’d always prefer the comic-book version.)

9 is fun. I’m not sure I understand 9.2.1 but it sounds like it’s in contradiction with the way all the application connecting Facebook with another site are infringing. 9.2.2 is ironic coming from Mr. Face “Black box” Book. 9.2.5 will be fun to implement for a SNS that started as a Fb application and decides to fly away: e.g. If things go sour with Fb, can Twitter erase the twits that came in from their Fb app? 9.2.7 would like to be more specific — he told me so.  The rest is understandable, but might need to lighten up the rhetoric of the principles, or at least add one element: ‘US laws apply; sorry y’all foreigners’.

10.3 must go. And ‘sponsored’ is not understood by most, so if you want to be clear and transparent, etc. use the word: “ad” and “paid by. . .”

11 sounds limiting the promise of all parties being equal. I guess I misunderstood the point of having that statement in the Principles.

14.2 needs to be there, because it’s the common ‘hosting’/safe harbor clause of the DMCA — but it needs to be made cristal clear, and probably be promoted to the Principles section: Facebook will comply with the local authorities.

14.3 CapsLock is annoying. If you want us to read something, make it short, or draw it.

As far as I can tell, the rest seems acceptable/common/obvious/boring.


About Bertil

I'm a PhD student in Digital Economics, and I love viennoiserie. Je suis un doctorant en économie (numérique) et j'aime la viennoiserie.
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