Facebook’s About Face

A few weeks ago, Facebook attempted to revise its Terms of Service – the online contract that governs the relationship with Facebook users.  Revising a contract can be tricky at the best of times, let alone an online contract with 175 million users from around the world. 

When word leaked that someone had actually read the fine print, and the fine print extended Facebook’s rights to user content, there was a groundswell of protest, and a quick retreat by Facebook.  Yesterday the company reverted to its old Terms of Service, and users claimed victory.  However, the fine print, even in the old Terms of Service, still permits Facebook to use your photos, profiles (including name, image, and likeness), messages, notes, text, information etc. “for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof...”  This expires when you remove your content, but millions of users have still granted Facebook extremely broad rights to their personal information and images, so it is interesting that these terms are being considered a triumph. (What was that one about the frog in boiling water?)

Under Canadian and US law, a company must be very careful to ensure that amendments to online contracts are enforceable (see: Online Contract Amendment Not Binding).

Calgary – 10:35 MST

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