Terms and Conditions

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The Facebook Blog has some interesting discussion about the controversy surrounding their changed Terms and Conditions. As of this writing, they’ve returned to the previous version, and it seems they’re trying to iron out some of the issues that have been raised (note: by people who have actually read them – have you?).

On the blog, Mark Zuckerberg points out how huge FaceBook’s community is: 175 million, and one of the problems that’s arising is the issue of what happens to your data if you deactivate your account. It has always bugged me that your account is still there, even if you “close” it. I’ve experimented with this. You close your account, but all you have to do is log in again – with the old details – and it magically reappears, complete with all your previously added friends.

This seems wrong – when you’re hacked off enough to delete an account, you want it to stay deleted. On the other hand, Zuckerberg points out that if you send an email to someone, they can keep a copy of that – you can never “unsend” it. In other words, FaceBook is retaining copies of all your messages in the same way. But is this right?

People want full ownership and control of their information so they can turn off access to it at any time. At the same time, people also want to be able to bring the information others have shared with them—like email addresses, phone numbers, photos and so on—to other services and grant those services access to those people’s information. These two positions are at odds with each other. There is no system today that enables me to share my email address with you and then simultaneously lets me control who you share it with and also lets you control what services you share it with.

I suppose we should be asking ourselves the same questions about Twitter. Do all your tweets stay there forever, even if you delete your account? (The other question is, with everybody suddenly using Twitter, has FaceBook peaked?)

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