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:
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?
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.)