Plenty of people are up in arms about the recent Facebook TOS change.
The change? Before Facebook relinquished their rights to your data if you deleted your account. Now they don’t.
I don’t have a problem with this new policy. I do have a problem with the new part.
Of course, I’m not arguing whether Facebook can legally make this change, but it does violate their user contract. I’m not talking about a legal TOS, but of an understanding with their users. What is the problem?
- Facebook has just asserted ownership to something that they didn’t claim ownership to before. And this isn’t future data, this is past data. Data you already contributed to Facebook with an understanding that they wouldn’t keep it.
This is another example of what I call the user-beware contract – where the TOS can change at any time without notification.
So, what is the user-aware way to make such a change?
- Maintain their old policy for data in Facebook before the change. This bifurcates user data between before and after the policy. Delete your account? Old data goes away, new data does not.
OK, but this is still a user-beware contract. What else should they do?
- Require users to opt-in to the new policy. If they opt out, either delete them or let them continue the old policy.
I’m sure Facebookians (and any one hosting a large service) is rolling their eyes at this point. But just because being user-aware is inconvenient doesn’t make it infeasible.
And a shout out to Ned Sykes for prompting this post: no, I’m not concerned about Facebook stealing my tweets, but as a voice in user rights, I am interested in promoting TOS that are pro user.
BTW: The user-beware/user-aware terms are defined in my post User Contracts – Part II: User Beware.