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Senators Tell Facebook To Quit Sharing Users' Info

kdawson posted more than 3 years ago | from the in-your-heart-you-know-it's-wrong dept.

Privacy 256

Hugh Pickens notes a USA Today story reporting that two US senators have joined Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in telling Facebook to quit sharing more of its users' data than they signed up for. Politico.com ups USA Today's ante, saying that it was three more senators, not two more, who joined Schumer's call: Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mark Begich (D-AK), and Al Franken (D-MN). The senators are asking the FTC to look at Facebook's controversial new information-sharing policies, arguing that the massively popular social network overstepped its bounds when it began sharing user data with other websites. Sen. Schumer said he learned about the new rules from his daughter, who is in law school, but added that he's noticed no difference on his own Facebook page, which, he assured reporters, "is very boring." "I can attest to that," deadpanned Franken, who made his living as a comedian before entering the Senate, and whose Facebook followers outnumber Schumer's by ten to one.

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256 comments

turnabout? (0, Offtopic)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 3 years ago | (#32003750)

Can I tell senators to stop sharing more of my money than the constitution they signed up for allows?

Re:turnabout? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32003812)

Can I tell senators to stop sharing more of my money than the constitution they signed up for allows?

Not worth it because a politician can find a way around any legally binding contract, even if they have to pass legislation to do it.

Re:turnabout? (0)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#32003930)

How long before a "Stop telling us how to use Facebook, you Senators, you!" group shows up on Facebook? Hmmm, maybe I should have checked before posting this?

Re:turnabout? (4, Informative)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004002)

The Senators aren't telling people how to use Facebook, they're telling Facebook how (not) to use their customer's data.

Re:turnabout? (0, Flamebait)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004242)

And you expect most Facebook users to discern that difference? To them it will be 'Big Government' telling their Facebook how things should be & stepping on their social networking rights ...

Re:turnabout? (1)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004340)

Or their impression is, "Some stuffy old guys are like totally pissed off that I want to have my cell number in my profile."

All the while, not really thinking about the possibility that someone is harvesting/selling/whatever with that information because it's "their" page. Quite simply - it took me a long time to understand why someone would care what sort of information I post out there than can be traced back to me for many (il)legit reasons. I obviously learned that lesson after creating my slashdot ID... *sigh*

Re:turnabout? (4, Insightful)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004538)

And you expect most Facebook users to discern that difference?

No, most users are apparently clueless and stupid and government regulation is required to protect them since they won't do it themselves.

The people who would argue with that are probably the same people who think that a democratically-elected group of legislators passing a bill which the majority agreed with means that we're living under a tyranny. Possibly even the same people who don't understand the difference between socialism, communism, fascism, and the Nazis.

Now that the economy is rocking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32003788)

Part of me finds it hard to believe that Facebook is #2 on the agenda.

Re:Now that the economy is rocking (1)

greyline (1052440) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004176)

Ever hear of multitasking? People can work on more than one thing at a time.

Re:Now that the economy is rocking (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32004212)

politicians can't

It's kind of sad... (4, Interesting)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 3 years ago | (#32003794)

It's kind of sad that apparently one of our more intelligent congresscritters, one who's willing to speak out for consumer rights at least (no matter how silly this case may actually be according to some people) "started out" as a comedian. But i guess if you're using lifetime politicians as a baseline...

Re:It's kind of sad... (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#32003888)

It amazes me that he ever made any sort of a living as a "comedian", given that his entire "funny" schtick (yes, I read his books... *shudder*) is calling his political opponents foul-mouthed names.

Maybe that appeals to a certain portion of the population. Or else that's a sad sign of how far political discourse has fallen.

Re:It's kind of sad... (2, Insightful)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 3 years ago | (#32003928)

The obvious solution is to elect Dennis Miller. He can provide a conservative counter-weight to Franken and with his rants I smell new records in filibustering.

Re:It's kind of sad... (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004028)

"filibustering" doesn't quite mean what you think it means. In the old days you actually had to keep talking. Eventually, everyone would get tired, pass out, leave the floor, and talking would end.

These days, they "agree to filibuster", table the motion, and that's that. No actual talking needed. It's a bastardization of process that both sides are guilty of signing on to.

Re:It's kind of sad... (5, Informative)

mweather (1089505) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004038)

It amazes me that he ever made any sort of a living as a "comedian", given that his entire "funny" schtick (yes, I read his books... *shudder*) is calling his political opponents foul-mouthed names

You do realise the man was one of the original writers for SNL, right? He didn't get into political comedy until his comedy career's third decade.

Re:It's kind of sad... (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004292)

You're suggesting he didn't write political comedy for SNL?

Re:It's kind of sad... (4, Funny)

corbettw (214229) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004404)

No I think he's suggesting SNL was once a comedy program. Personally, I find that difficult to believe.

Re:It's kind of sad... (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004522)

If the highlight of their "comedy" is the "I'm on a boat" sketch... *shudder*. They stopped being funny about a decade ago.

Re:It's kind of sad... (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004614)

Oh come now, this is just more "get off my lawn" sour grapes. Every new generation that comes along thinks SNL stopped being funny about a decade ago.

Re:It's kind of sad... (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004042)

It amazes me that he ever made any sort of a living as a "comedian", given that his entire "funny" schtick (yes, I read his books... *shudder*) is calling his political opponents foul-mouthed names.

Franken's comedy is mostly in TV, both as a writer and performer. Contrary to TFS, Franken worked largely as a political commentator (both as a writer and a talk-radio host) from at least 2003, and less as a comedian.

Further, if you'd actually read his books, you would know that, even for the political books, that's not an accurate description of their content, though with a suitably loose definition of "foul-mouthed", it might accurately describe their titles.

Re:It's kind of sad... (4, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004058)

In many ways I'm still a Hubert Humphrey Democrat -- someone who believes in afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted. A society is judged by how it treats the elderly, the sick, the impoverished. To me it's a matter of ethics and compassion. -Al Franken

We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. -Ann Coulter

Yeah, about that political discourse...

Re:It's kind of sad... (1, Funny)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004178)

We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. -Ann Coulter

How about we declare Ann Coulter's home a new country for a few days? That way she can have two out of three of her wishes fulfilled, AND she'll get a front row seat to the spectacle.

Also, film step three. I'd love to see some fundamental right wing Christian nutter trying to convert three cats and a gold fish.

Re:It's kind of sad... (0, Flamebait)

L0rdJedi (65690) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004268)

Here's Coulter's quote in context http://old.nationalreview.com/coulter/coulter.shtml [nationalreview.com] And here's the video where she explains it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJfGmaDrXJQ [youtube.com]

As far as Franken is concerned, if he believes that people should help each other (which I do as well), then why does he need government involvment? I certainly don't need any help from the government to give food to the nearby food bank or donate clothes to those in need. In fact, more government regulation to "help those that need it" usually ends up doing the opposite.

You do not need the government to help the poor, downtrodden, unfortunate, or anyone else down on their luck. You need to get off your ass and get involved in your community. Help your neighbor when they need help. Volunteer with local charities. Help people that need help instead of continually asking the government to do it. That just invites fraud and abuse.

Re:It's kind of sad... (5, Insightful)

halivar (535827) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004438)

Having government take care of the needy absolves us of the moral responsibility to give a damn anymore. We can get our warm fuzzies by pulling a lever instead of putting in our own time and effort to improve the human condition.

Re:It's kind of sad... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32004604)

So how much time/money have you put into looking after the elderly lately?

I'm going to guess it's in the ballpark of zero.

Re:It's kind of sad... (4, Insightful)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004742)

Regardless about how much I help out myself, I'd still rather elect the guy who wants to help people then the person who wants to go kill people if it's all the same to you.

Re:It's kind of sad... (1)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004410)

Ann Coulter is Franken's equal? What kind of Bizzaro world did I just land in?

Re:It's kind of sad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32004468)

In many ways I'm still a Hubert Humphrey Democrat -- someone who believes in afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted. A society is judged by how it treats the elderly, the sick, the impoverished. To me it's a matter of ethics and compassion. -Al Franken

We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. -Ann Coulter

Yeah, about that political discourse...

Actual quotes?!? What a novel concept.

Re:It's kind of sad... (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004082)

Maybe that appeals to a certain portion of the population.

People get the leaders they deserve.

Re:It's kind of sad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32004120)

People get the leaders they deserve.

I'm sure those ruled by Saddam Hussien, Fidel Castro, and Pol Pot concur.

Re:It's kind of sad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32004152)

I'm sure those ruled by Saddam Hussien, Fidel Castro, and Pol Pot concur.

Tell it to Noam Chomsky.

I don't believe you read his books (0, Offtopic)

BitterAndDrunk (799378) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004174)

I know you say you did, but you're either willfully misrepresenting them, a thundering moron, or a liar.

The whole "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot" thing was tarring him with the same brush Rush uses every day.

Additionally, there's scads of refutations in Truth, Lying Liars, and Big Fat Idiot for multiple talking points, and outlines his own POV in an often humorous way.

Again, with lots of footnotes and cites pointing to where he derived his facts from.

But yeah, you go ahead pretending he calls people names for three books and can't have any political discourse.

Just a hint, re: discourse: I suspect the problem is you.

Re:It's kind of sad... (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004508)

yet, he seems to understand his issues significantly better than well, all the grandstanding politicians we know and hate. Maybe it's because he actually reads things instead of just following the whip.

As Jon Stewart says... (3, Insightful)

rsborg (111459) | more than 3 years ago | (#32003892)

linky [dailyfinance.com] :

"I have not moved out of the comedian's box into the news box. The news box is moving towards me.

Perhaps Senator Franken thinks the same thing?

Re:As Jon Stewart says... (1)

strikeleader (937501) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004296)

"Senator" Franken

I still find that title very suspect. He should have an asterisk next to his name.

Re:It's kind of sad... (1)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004186)

It beats another "I'm rich and white so I must be your leader". Although technically he is rich and white. Damn it! Foiled again by reality!

Re:It's kind of sad... (3, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004252)

It's kind of sad that apparently one of our more intelligent congress critters ... "started out" as a comedian. But i guess if you're using lifetime politicians as a baseline...

Um, the same could be said for a certain actor [wikipedia.org] who became president, or singer [wikipedia.org] who became a congressman, or village idiot [wikipedia.org] that became president...

Re:It's kind of sad... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32004304)

Yes, Franken made the transition from comedian to joke.

Problem (4, Interesting)

skine (1524819) | more than 3 years ago | (#32003840)

The major problem I see here is that Facebook is allowed to change its terms without notifying anyone.

Re:Problem (2, Insightful)

Thanatiel (445743) | more than 3 years ago | (#32003954)

The problem is that most of the Facebook users didn't closed their account when it happened.

Re:Problem (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004156)

you can close and have your data deleted from facebook? do you have a list of detailed steps to go about that?

Re:Problem (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004400)

you can close and have your data deleted from facebook? do you have a list of detailed steps to go about that?

Log in, go to some link, hit this other link, confirm, and wait 30 days without logging in again.

After 30 days all you have to do is be naive enough to believe they actually did it, did it on all backups, etc.

Re:Problem (3, Interesting)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004402)

I went through the process of asking to have my account deleted. I stopped using Facebook for over a year. A quick Google search still showed my profile as visible. I went back to the site a year later, and logged in just fine. My account never went anywhere and was never deleted.

The real problem here is that Facebook pledged on their website that information was going to be private. Now they're sharing that very information and not even giving you any option to opt-out of it. They lied to all their users.

Could it be said they defrauder users for information that they've deemed valuable enough to sell to partner sites?

This is a major misstep.

Re:Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32004406)

You can close your Facebook account, but they retain your information for something like 18 months after your account closes. It's disclosed in documents administered to law enforcement and what they can request, how much, etc. These were leaked awhile ago, as I recall? Google, imo.

Re:Problem (2, Informative)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#32003986)

All websites say in their "Terms of Service" or equivalent some variation of this:

"We reserve the right to change these terms at anytime."

So, it's not just Facebook, it every website on the net.

Re:Problem (4, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004484)

And in every case, it's not worth the bits it is printed on.

Terms of a contract cannot be changed at-will by a single party. There cannot legally be a meeting of the minds if one party is not aware of the updated terms. Facebook provided no notice that their terms of service were changing and offered no opportunity to preemptively decline the new terms. As such, Facebook's new terms of service are prima facie invalid. There is no possibility whatsoever that a court would side with Facebook on this one if it ever went to court. Companies that place such terms in their contracts either A. require you to agree to the new terms on next login (which Facebook usually does not), or B. are hoping the public never notice (which Facebook apparently does).

Thus, these contract terms are already completely bogus. What we really need are laws that provide for the following:

  • Any lawyer who creates a contract with foreknowledge that a term in the contract is invalid shall be disbarred and banned from all practice of law (including corporate) for a period of five years on the first offense, permanently on the second.
  • Any lawyer who unknowingly creates a contract with invalid terms that were invalid at the time the contract was created shall be disbarred for 1 year and required to attend one year of retraining at the law school of his/her choice.
  • Any corporation creating a contract with terms that are not valid under U.S. law shall be liable for fines of $1 million per occurrence or 50% of net profit from the previous year, whichever is greater.
  • Any corporation knowingly creating a contract with terms that are not valid under U.S. law shall be liable for fines of $10 million per occurrence or 200% of net profit from the previous year, whichever is greater.

It's not enough for the contract terms to be invalid. They're already invalid now and companies still pull this crap. We need laws with actual teeth that punish companies who deliberately abuse contract law.

In the case of Facebook right now, the only real question is whether their new terms constitute a breach of their old terms and invalidate any rights they have to users' data or not. I suspect that depends more on the mood of the judge, should this ever go to court. Facebook is in a rather untenable legal position, IMHO, and their legal team should be canned en masse.

Re:Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32004030)

Yes, in the guise of new and great features, "We will collect any and all information we can about you and share it with everyone at any time. Don't worry, it's a feature!"

Re:Problem (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004044)

We gave away the keys to that farm a LONG time ago. How long have credit card, telecom, and pretty much every corporate service provider been allowed to have legal contracts - AKA service agreements or terms of service - that explicitly specify that they are allowed to change the terms of the contract without notice at any time?

That stipulation is completely contrary to common-sense contractual law and logic, yet they've been getting away with it for decades now. How is that?

Re:Problem (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004210)

On the subject of credit cards you are wrong. They have to notify you in writing when they change their terms of service. Unless you opt out and close your account, you implicitly agree to the new terms. The new consumer protection laws that passed now stipulate that if the card companies change their terms and you don't agree, they have to freeze your account at whatever the terms were before they changed them. You cannot continue to use the account but you can continue to pay it off without any additional penalities, but still subject to the original terms (late / missed payment fees, etc).

In reality the only people who are to blame for poor credit card terms of service are the people who use credit cards. It seems like a portion of population is under the misguided notion that access to credit is a God given right. It isn't. If anything credit is an invention of Satan. It should be used sparingly and responsibly. Other than the occassional cases where people fall onto hard times and use their credit cards to get by, most people are in debt because they decided they wanted something RIGHT NOW and figured that the interest charges were worth it.

Re:Problem (1)

EvilBudMan (588716) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004088)

Umm.......that's part of the original terms.

-Subject to change without notice-

This basically means they can do anything.

Facebook is shit. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32003854)

See subject.

Allow us to "opt-in" (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32003868)

I am tired of companies changing the rules but saying you can opt-out. How about we get to "opt-in" if we want Facebook to share our data with 3rd party websites??

I am willing to share certain information with just my Facebook friends, but I don't want it shared with every website on the Internet. Sheesh.

Re:Allow us to "opt-in" (4, Informative)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 3 years ago | (#32003984)

This. If they said it in the beginning, that's one thing. But telling us one thing, then later changing it and saying "well, all you need to do is tell us not to" is nothing more than a slimy practice. And I don't buy the "Well, we told you that we reserved the right to do it" argument. If they added controls to "opt-out" today, then they are acknowledging that there's more to it than what was written initially. What's the difference between that, and me going up to you on a busy street and saying "If you don't tell me no, your house is now mine" even if you didn't even hear it? Isn't that basically what they are doing here?

Re:Allow us to "opt-in" (1)

hemlock00 (1499033) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004428)

I think the key difference in your house example is that you're not agreeing to give up the home, whereas on facebook, and other sites with EULAs is that you have to agree (even if you don't read it) to use their service. Now I don't think there is anything wrong with having a set of rules for a service you create. But the problem is that companies know the majority of people don't read them and use it to take advantage. If you don't have the time to read _each_ TOS agreement you sign up with, then don't sign up for it. If you're smart and read them, you won't be taken advantage of. IMO, the companies may be shady in using the EULAs/TOS agreements knowing people don't read them, but people hold blame too.

Re:Allow us to "opt-in" (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004526)

This. If they said it in the beginning, that's one thing. But telling us one thing, then later changing it and saying "well, all you need to do is tell us not to" is nothing more than a slimy practice. And I don't buy the "Well, we told you that we reserved the right to do it" argument. If they added controls to "opt-out" today, then they are acknowledging that there's more to it than what was written initially. What's the difference between that, and me going up to you on a busy street and saying "If you don't tell me no, your house is now mine" even if you didn't even hear it? Isn't that basically what they are doing here?

They're not even providing tools to opt-out. It's closer to you coming up to me on a busy street, duct-taping my mouth and saying "If you don't tell me no, your house is now mine".

The website sharing thing was coupled with an expansion of "public data" a couple days later. Essentially, FB said: Hey, we're going to start sharing your info with websites, but you can opt-out; just declick this several-layers-deep checkbox, and then confirm the ambiguous warning, and ignore the text that says "Your friends will still share your PUBLIC data, like profile picture (became forced public a few months ago), friends list (likewise), and anything else you have public." Then, two days later, they pulled a fast one and said: "Wow! Amazing new 'Like' feature. Now your work history, education history, home city, and a lot of personal information about books, films, etc that you prefer are all 'Like links' you can edit them individually if you want." When you edit them, you get text that essentially says "Anything about you is now a Like Link, and all Like Links are Public. If you don't want Like Links, your profile space will be empty."

Ta DA! Now even if you de-select the "website share" crap, Facebook still shares, via your friends accounts, all of your public data which is almost everything in your profile except for address and other contact info (not far away from being forced public), non-profile photos, wall posts, and messages. Essentially, FB has figured out an end-run around giving people's "private" data to third parties by reclassifying it as "public" after the fact.

Re:Allow us to "opt-in" (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004008)

I am tired of companies changing the rules but saying you can opt-out. How about we get to "opt-in" if we want Facebook to share our data with 3rd party websites??

I am willing to share certain information with just my Facebook friends, but I don't want it shared with every website on the Internet. Sheesh.

Agreed. I closed down my Facebook account because of this. And, yes, I did actually have a few friends.

Re:Allow us to "opt-in" (1)

yuna49 (905461) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004128)

The USA Today article contains this observation from the senators:

"Facebook should change the rules so users have to proactively opt into the information sharing program, the senators said."

If they think opt-in is the best solution, how about revisiting the 2003 "CAN-SPAM [wikipedia.org] " bill and changing it from opt-out to opt-in as well?

CAN we SPAM? Yes, we can!

Re:Allow us to "opt-in" (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004392)

Only one of the four senators mentioned in the summary or the article voted for CAN-SPAM. And that one senator now has a daughter in law school who provides him with information about technology law that he likely didn't have in 2003.

Re:Allow us to "opt-in" (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004290)

I am tired of companies changing the rules but saying you can opt-out. How about we get to "opt-in" if we want Facebook to share our data with 3rd party websites??

I am willing to share certain information with just my Facebook friends, but I don't want it shared with every website on the Internet. Sheesh.

Agreed. I closed down my Facebook account because of this. And, yes, I did actually have a few friends.

Why not just limit the stuff in your profile to stuff that you don't care about being public? Hell, you could even use a fake name, fake information and even a fake "throwaway" email address. Then they would be sharing fake data. I don't have a problem with that.

Re:Allow us to "opt-in" (1)

Evil.Bonsai (1205202) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004334)

You 'opted-in' by signing up in the first place. I'm waiting for FB to say "Don't like how we do business? Here, let us help you close your account."

Please enlighten me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32003966)

The Schumer facebook link works without the ref=search&sid=636309782.1077664488..1 part. What's that ID for?

Free economy, regulate fraud (5, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32003976)

The problem I see is that this will lead to more regulation, which leads to less innovation, more draconian laws (see DMCA) and losses of freedom. What congress needs to do is to force -everyone- not just Facebook, MySpace, etc. is that they can't just change terms and conditions whenever they see fit without making us agree to them again.

This is -fraud- and must be eliminated. Think of it this way, you go to Wal-Mart, buy a new blender thinking it had the feature to, say, crush ice. So for the first week it does it just fine then the next week it won't crush ice because that feature had been removed. You should have a right to demand a refund. (And that example wasn't too far out there, look at Sony and the PS3...) and you should have the -right- to be notified when things change. If you aren't informed of the change, you didn't agree to it therefore the contract should be voided.

Any license that states that they can change the conditions must be made illegal. A contract or license is an -agreement- and agreements mean that 2 parties need to know what they are agreeing to. If they don't, its not an agreement.

Re:Free economy, regulate fraud (2, Insightful)

L0rdJedi (65690) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004054)

Or

If you don't like the license agreement and the fact that it can be changed at any time, STOP USING FACEBOOK or any other site with a similar agreement. The problem isn't the agreement. The problem is that people don't care. Nobody has to use Facebook or any other social networking site. If you don't like their TOS, don't use their service. It's that simple.

Re:Free economy, regulate fraud (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004188)

Its still fraud though and fraud is fraud. The entire point of having a government is not to 'bail out' large businesses, send millions of dollars in aid to Africa, or pay for a life-sized painting of George Bush, it is to prevent fraud and force. If the government sees fraud happening, its their job to stop it. I think we can all agree that changing user agreements that much without warning is fraud. If its not fraud, then why is bait and switch prohibited? Surely the customer should be knowledgeable enough not to go for the switch, but many do.

The entire point of governments is to prevent fraud and force. Those are really the only two that make perfect sense. Yet why do we think that we need all these programs that the government has proven to be incompetent at, while neglecting the two reasons we don't have the freedom of anarchy.

Re:Free economy, regulate fraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32004218)

Just how much do you pay to use facebook again?

Re:Free economy, regulate fraud (1)

hedleyroos (817147) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004322)

Facebook presumably made money from his profile under the old terms and conditions. So Facebook is not really free since you the user give them something (data) in return for a social networking platform.

There is no binding contract here, just an agreement. Depending on which country you live in you can pursue that to different extents. But let's say the agreement is enforcable then I'd say FB broke the law.

Re:Free economy, regulate fraud (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32004332)

Sorry bud, but here in the USA, we (rightly) have identified that sort of bullshit as unacceptable.

If you don't like their TOS, don't use their service. It's that simple.

It is NOT that simple. I cannot run a photocopying business with a TOS that states that I am entitled to sell your personal information to identity theft rings.
You might argue "if you don't like it, don't use them and they'll go out of business." Unfortunately, some people might not notice that part of the agreement, or perhaps they were in a hurry and didn't realize it included that clause.
This is why we make LAWS. People, on the whole, agree that certain types of bullshit are unacceptable and we aren't going to allow it.

It's PARTICULARLY upsetting when they seem to think they can obtain your data under the terms of one agreement, and then CONTINUE to keep said data (and profit from it) after they change the agreement without notifying you or obtaining your permission.

Exactly how long do you think it would take a bank to get the shit slapped out of them by the government for following this sort of course of action?

They take your money under an agreement, and they are REQUIRED by federal regulation to notify you of any changes to your agreement. If they fail to do so, they are subject to some serious legal shit-fan-hitting.

Facebook, along with EVERY OTHER COMPANY in the US, online or otherwise, should be required to notify the other person in the event of a PROPOSED change in agreement.
If the person doesn't like the agreement, they should be allowed to collect their data (similar to collecting your money from the bank) and then any and all traces of that data should be required to be destroyed.

Why? Because to many people, their personal data is worth more than the money they have in the bank.

Legislation isn't the answer to many problems, but it IS the answer to stopping a lot of the corporate bullshit that goes on in this country.
If anything, we need more laws/regulations to govern corporations, and less to govern individuals.

An unrestrained, unregulated free market fails just as readily as one that's under complete governmental control.

Re:Free economy, regulate fraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32004114)

The problem I see is that this will lead to more regulation

Fair enough

What congress needs to do is to force -everyone- not just Facebook, MySpace, etc. is that they can't just change terms and conditions whenever they see fit without making us agree to them again.

Ah. New regulations to the rescue. I can see you've put a lot of thought into this.

Re:Free economy, regulate fraud (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004224)

Ah. New regulations to the rescue. I can see you've put a lot of thought into this.

How is it a new regulation? The definition of a contract is:

a. An agreement between two or more parties, especially one that is written and enforceable by law. See Synonyms at bargain. b. The writing or document containing such an agreement.

From http://www.thefreedictionary.com/contract [thefreedictionary.com] . How can you agree to something if you don't know what it is? It stops being an agreement. If I agree to pay you $50, we both have an agreement I will give you $50. If I change that to paying you $25 and show up with $25 when you expect $50, chances are you won't be too happy because the agreement is broken. Its not a new regulation, it simply keeps the definition of contract and agreement together.

Re:Free economy, regulate fraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32004548)

If I agree to pay you $50, we both have an agreement I will give you $50. If I change that to paying you $25 and show up with $25 when you expect $50, chances are you won't be too happy because the agreement is broken.

Facebook users initially agreed that the terms of the agreement can be changed. If I agree that you should pay me $50, subject to the condition that you can change the amount you pay at any time, I'd have nobody to blame but myself for entering into a very stupid agreement. You want the government to make that kind of agreement illegal? Fine. But I fail to see how that (i.e. restricting what kind of agreements consenting parties can enter into) wouldn't qualify as new regulation.

As an aside, note that lay definitions (like the one you linked) and legal definitions (as set into actual law) often differ substantially.

Re:Free economy, regulate fraud (3, Informative)

cynyr (703126) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004202)

Last i knew you could NOT make facebook purge your data from their systems after you quit. So thats the big problem here for me, if i get new terms when i log in, and i disagree, i should get a button that lets me gather a copy of my data and then make you delete it.

Re:Free economy, regulate fraud (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004284)

more regulation, which leads to less innovation, more draconian laws (see DMCA) and losses of freedom.

Yeah, I'm gonna miss the freedom to expose my personal information to thousands of for-profit businesses who will try to sell me crap I don't want or need. That loss of innovation will mean smaller budgets for desperate and single marketing people, who will be sadly forced into slavery and their children sent to public schools. And you're absolutely right about the draconian laws -- I mean, look at HIPAA [wikipedia.org] and how it's horribly screwed over the medical field with it's demands for privacy of information. And then there's the inherent loss of freedom that comes from demanding that a corporation not sell it's customer information to the highest bidder -- oh, wait. That's not a freedom you have -- that's one they have and like to club you over the head with!

Think of it this way, you go to Wal-Mart, buy a new blender thinking it had the feature to, say, crush ice. So for the first week it does it just fine then the next week it won't crush ice because that feature had been removed.

I could counter with, "you should have read the EULA" and give a long dissertation on the wonders of open source in embedded systems, but instead I'll just say "dude... weak."

...and you should have the -right- to be notified when things change.

Yeah! Because Sony didn't put it on their homepage, at the top in CAPITAL BOLD LETTERING of the terms of use, and required the user read the terms before installing the firmware update, where in no uncertain terms it laid out that the feature would be removed, what was being added, and what the consequences of not upgrading were. Yup... none of that happened. If you want to use an example that's relevant, try Microsoft's WGA module being force-updated and then nuking from orbit both legit and illegit installs of its own software.

Any license that states that they can change the conditions must be made illegal.

Licenses are living documents. They need to be changed in order to adapt to the environment. Perhaps it would be better to say people should be free to continue using the product under the old license without losing any features, benefits, or similar by choosing to do so. That is more legally defensible and sound.

"without making us agree to them again. " (2, Insightful)

aepervius (535155) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004450)

Click here to agree to the new condition. If you disagree we will still keep your data and sell what you agreed previously to let us sell, but you lose the service. If you agree we will rape your privacy three ways.

The only way to win the game is not to play to begin with. Wargame got it right, only it applies to nearly all service and goods on the net.

Don't senators have a better way... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32003982)

...to do this...like, I don't know, pass a law or something?

Shocking idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32004000)

Cancel your account. If these clowns can change their TOS on a whim, don't trust them with your information.

WTF?! (2, Funny)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004064)

Isn't the whole point of Facebook to share user information.
I mean personally I find it pretty pointless, but some people seem to like being able to share their bowel movements. (and other less useful information.)

Re:WTF?! (1)

L0rdJedi (65690) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004146)

Isn't the whole point of Facebook to share user information.

Yes. Which is why all the hub bub about them sharing your information is completely lame. If you don't want to share your information, don't share it.

Re:WTF?! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32004408)

One of Facebook's defining characteristics when it was first created is that you had tight control over who saw your information. Supposedly it was restricted to your friends or people in your network. This is very different than what it is becoming, which shares information with everyone and anyone.

Re:WTF?! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32004168)

It is the point of Facebook to share user information, but it is also the point that you get to control with WHOM you share that information. I personally have my account locked down to just my friends.

For example, I don't mind sharing photos of my kids with my friends, but I don't want every pedophile on the Internet to have access to those pictures. I may post that I am enjoying San Juan, but I don't want criminals to have access to that information. Do you see the difference? It's about having control over who sees what.

Facebook, on the other hand, keeps making moves to automatically share more of your personal information with people without your consent (i.e. you have to opt-out AFTER the fact instead of being able to opt-in). This is disgusting and is NOT simply a facet of a social networking site. If Facebook had simply shared all information with everyone from the start, I seriously doubt many of us would have used it in the first place. But they now decide they can do that after the fact at their discretion.

Re:WTF?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32004348)

Isn't the whole point of Facebook to share user information.
I mean personally I find it pretty pointless, but some people seem to like being able to share their bowel movements. (and other less useful information.)


That's what Poop the World [pooptheworld.com] is for.

Facebook - A Matter of National Importance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32004090)

Wait, so... we have:

A war in Afghanistan supporting a leader who himself threatened to work with the very people trying to kill American soldiers.

A war in Iraq that we never should have been a part of in the first place and which has sucked away untold American lives, billions of American dollars and Iraqi lives.

An economy kept afloat by little in the way of solid fundamentals as corporations make strong productivity gains but millions of Americans are left jobless.

Health care costs that are astronomical and largely unchanged despite a "healthcare reform" bill being passed and doomsday debt levels threatening to suck up every budget from here out unless taxes are raised and entitlements slashed.

Mexican illegals marching boldly through Arizona in pursuit of a financial stability in the U.S. that their government can't provide and a controversial Arizona bill that allows for questioning those suspected of being illegals (which the Mexican government apparently can find time to condemn since it's not doing its job in the first place).

And despite all of this... the subject that garners the attention of United States Senators is Facebook's information sharing policy? Is this a South Park episode or real life?!!? Not to discount the importance of privacy matters but given the problems current faced by our republic, is FACEBOOK really the #1 or #100 most important thing that U.S. Senators can spend their time rallying around? They should be ASHAMED to even voice an opinion publicly about this given the state of the economy, the federal debt and the major crises facing the country.

Re:Facebook - A Matter of National Importance (1, Offtopic)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004532)

If immigration services had done their jobs in the summer of 2001 there woulnd't have been a 9/11 attack. Most of the 9/11 Hijackers were here on EXPIRED student visas. If the FBI had done their job they could have prevented it as well.

So what do we do?

We create several more layers of obsfication for the problem. We pass a patriot act that screw over the average american on civil rights, we create another bloated beuracracy in the form of Homeland Security.

What should have happened is that after the congressional investigation into 9/11 there should have been several rounds of mass firings in several key government agencies followed by promotions of those who sounded the alarms but were met with deaf ears of their (now fired) co-workers.

No one had the GUTS to even suggest that they should fire anyone after the 9/11 hearings. More of the government mentality of promoting those who fail instead of firing their asses.

Smoke and mirrors (1)

AthleteMusicianNerd (1633805) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004198)

This contradicts the policies of forcing email services like google, yahoo and telecom companies to share info. It's a full time job to keep track of what bills are coming out of that town, and many of them are slight of hand. I'm sure this one is no different.

What the Senators should have done (0)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004458)

They should have told American that they are dumbasses if they share all of their most personal thoughts online and if they don't want to the whole world to know what colour of poopie they made this morning the idiot users need to lock their profile the hell down.

Instead it makes for so much better press for the scum bag senators and congresscritters to go after the "big mean faceless coporate entity" known as facebook rather than calling out their constituients on their inherent stupidity.

Instead they will propose some draconian legislation which will inadvertantly affect our freedom in a negative way, but we will be so much better for it as the unwashed masses of idiots out there will be protected by big daddy government. Plus they will waste more money in creating some agency to enforce it so everyone will suffer from higher taxes to boot.

I blame the piss poor edication in this country, I mean how hard is it to realize that posting your diary pages on facebook is the same as going to the village square and tearing out sheet of your diary and spaling them to community corkboard? Common Sense is so freekin' dead it is a wonder we don't have people drowning to death because they forgot to roll up their windows when they went through a car wash.

This wasn't without notice (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32004498)

The first time I went to my own Facebook home page after this policy change, I had a big notification box right at the top telling me about it, and including a link to my own privacy settings to make changes if I wanted to. I had to dismiss that box or it would keep reappearing.

IIRC (1)

sugapablo (600023) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004558)

Everyone who signs up for Facebook agrees to their Terms which are clearly spelled out and say they could pull stuff like this. If you don't like the terms, don't sign up. This isn't a situation like a local utility where you don't have a choice to switch to something else.

They need new jobs - as lawnboys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32004634)

Shouldn't senators be smarter than this? They constantly display the intelligence of someone who should be mowing my yard.

BTW, I need to apologize to all the lawn care professionals out there. You are much smarter than these idiots. I know people running lawn care businesses who enjoy doing it and left 6-figure salary jobs in corporations. The claim to be much saner and more connected with their communities. Basically, they are much happier.

I'd like much more happiness - and them out of out business - for most of the elected people.

User Acknowledged (3, Informative)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#32004744)

When Facebook added this "feature", the next time I logged in I was prompted with a big-ole dialog window informing me of all the changes, the implications of privacy, and how to change it if I didn't like the new settings.

That's all I really ask for and I don't find it unreasonable that Facebook is trying to get in as many areas as possible (through sharing everyone's stuff).

It's really easy to cancel a Facebook account too.

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