Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Facebook messages - We want to license to the rest of your life.

Facebook is beginning a "slow rollout" of a new service, Facebook Messages. Messages will combine chats, sms messaging, and email. Eventually it may include VOIP messages. It's pretty cool. If you want you can have an @facebook.com email address, or if you want to keep your current address you can. It keeps a history of all of your conversations. You can even add friends that aren't on Facebook and keep records of your conversations with them. The only tradeoff is that Facebook now has license to make use of all of that content per the statement of rights and responsibilities, section 2:

You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings. In addition: For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos ("IP content"), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook ("IP License"). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it. (emphasis mine) When you delete IP content, it is deleted in a manner similar to emptying the recycle bin on a computer. However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time (but will not be available to others). When you use an application, your content and information is shared with the application. We require applications to respect your privacy, and your agreement with that application will control how the application can use, store, and transfer that content and information. (To learn more about Platform, read our Privacy Policy and About Platform page.) When you publish content or information using the "everyone" setting, it means that you are allowing everyone, including people off of Facebook, to access and use that information, and to associate it with you (i.e., your name and profile picture). We always appreciate your feedback or other suggestions about Facebook, but you understand that we may use them without any obligation to compensate you for them (just as you have no obligation to offer them) (emphasis mine).

The provisions giving Facebook a license to all of my data doesn't seem too bad since it's subject to my privacy and application settings. If only I could know that my settings would not change without my wanting them too. It would also help if my privacy settings wouldn't be set to wide open every time Facebook decides to make changes to their privacy settings.

Facebook's new Messages is a really good idea. But there are few companies I would trust less with my private messages.