Facebook, Redux

So I wrote that I didn’t think facebook was for me.

And then I figured I’d try it out before making a judgment one way or the other.

Thus far, I am completely unsurprised and underwhelmed.

All sorts of people from various past jobs, schools and affiliations are on there, and I have somewhere in the vicinity of 50 friends. I’ll admit that there’s at least one “friend” on there whose name sounds familiar from high school, but I don’t actually remember interacting with him/her at any point, or what s/he even looked like. But there doesn’t seem to be a good way to question friendships – it’s either confirm or deny!

So far, though, facebook hasn’t delivered anything to me I’d consider “valuable.” There are events being planned through the site that I’ve been invited to, though I’ve also gotten individual email invitations to said events, so I don’t think I was missing out by not having an account.

But in terms of knowing on a minute-by-minute basis which of my friends are now friends with others, and what any given person is… at any given moment in time – I just don’t give a damn. If I did, I would (and do) ask. And I hate small-talk enough, which is what the updates and wall posts are. So I’m sure that if I can’t be bothered to small-talk in the real world, the internets will forgive me for not engaging in it there either.

I’m also more than a little distrustful of their terms of service, which state that anything posted to the facebook site is property of facebook. From their TOS:

By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing.

So this means that I suddenly grant the site creators unlimited rights to any blog posts, photos or other content I include on facebook. For me, this means that the one photo I’ve got up there is the only one that’s staying, and I’m going to be removing the “blog import” function in the notes section shortly. I’m not delusional enough to think that the facebook machine is going to get rich off of my paltry ramblings, but it’s the principle of handing over ownership of my creation. Homey don’t play that.

While initially I liked the idea of sharing my activities, events, photos and thoughts with an audience who would otherwise not be reading my blog or seeing me in person – I won’t compromise my own rights to those things for the sake of people with whom I don’t regularly interact, or have only a long-past place and time in common.

So the Verdict? Mildly interesting, ultimately not valuable to me.

I’ll stay on facebook for the sake of the invites that roll through there, update my “Jen is…” whenever I’m feeling clever, and probably leave some wall snippets or comments here and there whenever I’m so inspired. But until it actually prompts me to participate in a meaningful way – and one that leaves me feeling a little less violated – my public profile and private experience will likely be highly uninteresting.

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3 thoughts on “Facebook, Redux

  1. Richard

    The copyright issue doesn’t really affect me that much, since I don’t really consider whatever it is I do at Facebook a creative activity. In fact, I’m still struggling with finding an answer to the “what problem does Facebook solve?” question.

  2. Riann

    My guideline for internet use in general (which also applies to facebook) is not to post anything that I wouldn’t want my mother, students, or employer to see. I find facebook mildly entertaining, but I definitely wouldn’t qualify it as valuable. Also, I find my rule for internet use in general negates any worry over their slightly shady proprietary use laws.

  3. donna

    That’s actually standard practice for any type of hosted service like facebook — Myspace has almost exactly the same agreement, although also includes an explanation as to why — because without, they couldn’t do things like RSS feeds, compress or otherwise modify photos, distribute the data you’ve uploaded, or … do anything, really.

    MySpace has a pretty good explanation as to why they have that in their license here: http://www.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=misc.terms

    And, for a site that is actually useful (since god knows neither MySpace or Facebook are good for anything other than Being Annoying)… Flickr has the same licensing agreements. (See http://info.yahoo.com/legal/us/yahoo/utos/utos-173.html)

    It’s standard practice, and doesn’t mean that you’ve given away your right to any sort of ownership — just that they have a license to use said data in a way that without which, the site couldn’t exist.

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