Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I'm Closing My Facebook Account

What?? How could I do such a thing? That's a question that we all have to deal with at some point in our lives. When is a good and appropriate time to close your Facebook account? Isn't the site just for young people after all?


Can you keep it open forever using it to stay in close contact with all of the people you have met over the years? Just yesterday, my Uncle got a Facebook message from one of his students from his teaching days at Clemson. They hadn't communicated in over twenty years. They were both thrilled to catch up.

Honestly, it seems like it would be more convenient to keep it open. Personally, I find sending email updates troubling and somewhat burdensome for everyone involved and calling is totally out of the question.

However, with the news that Facebook can now use personal information in any capacity they choose even after your account has been closed is more than a little concerning and has made me reconsider.

"Facebook's new terms of service say that it owns--or at least shares--your uploaded content. Your photos from a company retreat could show up in a Facebook ad. Or Facebook could sublicense the rights to your company jingle in a video. Does Facebook want to use your content like this? It doesn't matter--the company says it can."

Of course, Facebook has their terms available for all of its users to see, but I know that I had not read them in detail and I doubt many other people have either. The lure of unlimited picture uploads and instant contact with friends from all over the world easily distracts the new user. I've been a member since the end of 2004 and before today, had not read the terms in their entirety.(You can read them here if you want.)
Technically, the terms say that by joining and uploading, "you grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute..." your content. Facbook also specifies it can "use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising... ."
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg is trying to tell everyone to "call down" and even released this quick memo on Facebook this afternoon.

Just in case you can't see that, it says:

Over the past few days, we have received a lot of feedback about the new terms we posted two weeks ago. Because of this response, we have decided to return to our previous Terms of Use while we resolve the issues that people have raised. For more information, visit the Facebook Blog.

If you want to share your thoughts on what should be in the new terms, check out our group Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.

I'm curious how they will "resolve this issue". I wonder if users will start to think twice when posting sensitive information on your profile. I'd like to think that maybe people have started realizing that they might be revealing a bit too much about themselves without any thought about how Facebook, a future boss, or the government might use that information.

The problem for some people is that they have profiles on other social networking sites. Should they be even more concerned?
MySpace's terms of use agreement grants the company the license to use your non-private content only within MySpace-related services. Moreover--and perhaps more important--MySpace notes that once you delete something from its site, it "will cease distribution as soon as practicable, and at such time when distribution ceases, the license will terminate.

With Twitter, the company's terms of service state it "claim[s] no intellectual property rights over the material you provide" and that "you can remove your profile at any time by deleting your account.

Even YouTube, owned by privacy advocate punching bag Google, limits its license to use your content at will. The license will "terminate within a commercially reasonable time after you remove or delete your user videos," the service's terms of service say.

Everybody will make their own decision, but right now, I'm in the process of saving all of my pictures uploaded onto Facebook onto an external hard drive (which will take about 12 hours)and after that, I'm probably going to close it down or at least totally minimize my profile.

I do foresee these types of sites becoming an issue for people in the future and I'd like to stay away from that while I still can, but it's a tougher decision than one might think. I had a friend who closed his account and I immediately started wondering what his reasoning was. Was it a personal problem? Was he getting a job and wanted to play it safe? I had no idea. In reality, I think he was just tired of the service and had had enough, but for some reason, I couldn't accept that.

So, now I am at that cross-roads and totally torn. I am certainly concerned about my privacy, but am also worried that I'll be in contact with friends back home even less.

There is never an easy answer to the tough questions. Stupid Facebook.

(And yes I see the irony that my Facebook imports my posts, so some of you will be reading this on there.)


Harriet said...

Know this is hard for you but there can be e-mails. I do think you are making a wise decision for now.

Rmeis said...

I have been contemplating this as well for the past few months.

Facebook has just gone over the top, it isn't "fun" like it use to be. I feel like I'm wasting my time when I get on there, and it is usually the 1st website I check in the morning, I find that kindof ridiculous...

The Clam said...

I think I'll have to go back to emails.

You're right, Rodge. It's nothing like it used to be and it seems that a few of us are the only ones using it.

We're certainly wasting our time on it, but at the same time, we feel like we're missing out on someting if we don't check it.

I'll be happy when I get my pictures off and will be able to close it down. The problem is that I have over 70 albums with over 60 pictures in each on there.

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