Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Facebook Terms of Use

I just read my Facebook Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. It was OK, but one passage in the former (the Privacy Policy) really struck me:
Facebook may also collect information about you from other sources, such as newspapers, blogs, instant messaging services, and other users of the Facebook service through the operation of the service (e.g., photo tags) in order to provide you with more useful information and a more personalized experience.
That's a little creepy. They don't say much about how they'll disclose the information they've collected. There were other places that were ambiguous, too.
For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos ("IP content"), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook ("IP License"). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.

OK, so they aren't assuming copyright - that should be a gimme, but who knows in this world. Their intellectual property license appears to be reasonably eliminated - but what happens if some asshole refuses to delete the content? That gives Facebook the license? Facebook should then be able to tell that person to delete the content and remove the license. And they should explain that.

I never realized that Facebook's terms require real names. I've been thinking about seriously slowing down my website registration - truth is, it's easy to say now, but the websites always have goodies for the registree.

Also working on the Xmarks terms (I seem to recall being unimpressed by their Privacy policy). It was with Xmarks that it was finally drove home to me: when you submit information to a website, it generally can be pulled whenever whoever works for that website wants it to be pulled up. There's no notification to the user whose information it is, and no real checks and balances. All companies should send notifications.

There should be laws stating that I can always ask a business to give me all the personal information it has on me. Then I should be able to look into destroying that information if I don't feel it's well-placed in their hands.

I checked Myspace today - someone messaged me. The last message I'd gotten was from Tom back in September 2008. In February 2008, they changed their Terms and Privacy Policy. No summary of the changes. Not surprising for a company started by eUniverse (a company whose ventures included software in KaZaa) and purchased by Fox News, the company which supports O'Reilly, Hannity, Glenn Beck and related crazies.

Notably, however, the Better Business Bureau's terms seems to be the worst of those I've looked at. They're short and ambiguous about key details: what can they do with my complaint information; what's up with the "only governments/organizations" can link? It's just not clear.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Improvement costs energy

So now I'm sitting on a brown loveseat in a tiny, rustically-urban apartment, ready to post. You may know what that means. I am nearing the anniversary of my arrival here. When I first arrived, I slept on the floor in a dorm room while looking for work. I haven't mentioned my work yet except to say that I'm a government bureaucrat. I'm afraid to say too much, but I work in the regulation of the financial industry. I never imagined that people at my level in an industry would do the sort of things I do. Much of my power is illusory, but some of it is real.

Doing anything worthwhile takes focus, delayed gratification, the sacrifice of worry, and the sacrifice of other, tantalizing information. Every moment that I blog I take away from something else. It doesn't take away much, but enough. So I'm off to something else