Quietly.

It took a blogger to notice that Facebook had re-written the terms of social networking on their site.

The blogosphere was abuzz Monday after a popular
consumer affairs blog pointed out changes to Facebook’s terms of use
that the social networking Web site quietly made earlier this month.
The issue of who controls the data posted to the site is a massive gray
area that continues to evolve as Internet companies and consumers shape
social norms on how to define trust in the digital age and share their
lives through new technology.

Under both the old and new rules, members grant Facebook a license
to use content “on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the
promotion thereof.” But the revised agreement eliminates language
saying this license would “automatically expire” if content were
removed from the site.

So, what does this mean?

“They’re saying, ‘Once data gets in our database, we can
do whatever we want with it,’ ” said Eric Goldman, associate professor
and director of the High Tech Law Institute at the Santa Clara
University School of Law.

That’s huge, and it was a stealth move.

Suzie White, Facebook’s corporate counsel for commercial
transactions, announced on the company’s official blog Feb. 4 that the
site was updating its terms of use. But Facebook didn’t send out a mass
notification asking users to sign off on the changes. And White’s brief
post, which didn’t call attention to the content license, went
unnoticed.

Then, on Sunday, the Consumerist blog, which is owned by the
publisher of Consumer Reports, warned readers of the changes by
describing the revised policy as “We Can Do Anything We Want With Your
Content. Forever.”

Complete control. Forever. Get your mind around that, social networkers.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....