Facebook created an online uprising last week by proposing a new Terms of Service agreement for all users. In case you’re not familiar with the Terms of Service agreement, it’s the long legal document you agree to every time you sign up for an online account. The document is designed to protect the website owner from lawsuits resulting in visitor misuse.
The Terms of Service agreement grows longer and longer every day like every other legal document. As people abuse the system, the website owner adds more to the agreement, protecting themselves and reducing your rights. You’ve probably noticed that you receive new Terms of Service agreements in the mail at least once a year from your credit card companies, banks, insurance companies and every other company you have an ongoing relationship with.
Have you ever taken the time to read these long, boring documents? I never used to but now I read every one. It’s amazing what they’re cramming into these agreements, reducing your power and giving permission to the vendor to screw you every chance they get. Take a look at one of the recent agreements you received from your credit card company. They basically say by using the credit card you give them permission to sell your personal information and sell you purchasing habits to anyone that wants to buy it. They also say they can raise their interest rates and charge any fees they want whenever they want.
Facebook is the latest website to update its privacy policies and it caused an uproar. Facebook has been under the gun forever because of its policies. The controversy is about who owns the content you publish on your Facebook page. Many have interpreted the agreement as saying Facebook owns everything you post on your page and they can do anything they want with it, even after you close your account.
The bottom line is that you need to read the Terms of Service and Privacy Policies of every company you do business with. Be careful what you post online and assume everything will be plagiarized or used by others in some form. Isn’t that what community is all about?
Let me know what you think about internet privacy or lack of there of.