Tag Archives: Facebook

Facebook – crowdsourcing a new ToS?

Well the furore over Facebook’s attempt to update / “clarify” their Terms of Service continues.

facebook terms

I’m actually very interested in the whole issue. For a long time now I’ve pointed people at the offending paragraph in the Facebook ToS which has potentially claimed usage rights to what you upload to their servers, and I’ve fought shy of putting a lot of my own photo or video content on the site for that very reason. Those of you who have heard me speak about social media in public may well have heard me point it out in the past. Based on the current wording I still wouldn’t share my family photos on Facebook.

Anyway, the recent amendment to the ToS and the apparent continued claim to retain and use content even after a profile is deleted caused Facebook to rapidly change tack. People are hailing the reversal to the previous ToS as a victory… all I’d say to that is that I was concerned enough about the previous wording. The relevant wording is below, although it’s important to note that the same paragraph goes on to state that Facebook does NOT claim OWNERSHIP of the material, but the wording is pretty clear about usage rights, in my opinion:

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 licence (with the right to sublicence) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, 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 authorise sublicences of the foregoing.

(excerpted from http://www.facebook.com/terms.php as they stood at 14:00 GMT 18th Feb 2009)

In response to the noisy reaction to the aborted change, Mark Zuckerberg posted on the Facebook blog talking about taking a new approach to crafting and communicating the TOS. I find this particularly interesting, as it suggests that Facebook wants to take a more collective or even potentially a crowdsourced approach to the whole area.

Now, I’ve been through this kind of experience, myself, professionally – IBM has been through the process of creating blogging, virtual worlds, and now social software usage guidelines, and we’ve done so transparently, collaboratively, and with a pleasantly light touch. I’m not yet convinced that Facebook will take such an open and collaborative approach to revising their service guidelines… and as Rooney tweeted earlier, this does present a challenge for a company but as we know it’s not the first time that the socially-networked masses have forced a change in policy, and not even the first time Facebook has been affected. Interesting times, and I will continue to follow this area with interest.

Update: some nice thoughts on the issue here, too.

When Love and Hate Collide: MySpace

Remember MySpace? I guess it was one of the first really mainstream social networking sites… remember, it was all big and fluffy and exciting a couple of years back, everyone who was anyone was flocking there. And then along came Facebook, and Twitter, and a whole range of other sites, and suddenly MySpace was “like, so last year”, and lots of people stopped caring.

Myspace
Myspace” by moyix.

The benefits

I’m still on MySpace, but I can’t say that I’m an active participant. My page essentially acts as a placeholder, provides a link over here to my primary blog, and acts as a way of keeping in touch with a small group of folks who I know over there. If someone searches for me on MySpace, they’ll find at least one way to contact me, and hopefully find my “main” web presences.

I also find that MySpace, along with Last.FM, is one of my key “music networks”. I have discovered a number of new artists through MySpace – particularly Alex Cornish who is increasingly beginning to break through into the mainstream in the UK (looking forward to his London gig in a couple of weeks’ time). I’ve also connected with smaller bands and found more obscure (to the UK) artists I’ve been following for a while. I believe that MySpace is an interesting way for artists to release music, get themselves known, and interact with fans.

The way the music thing has generally worked is that I’ve found and “friended” an artist, and then explored their connections and sampled their music on the site. In a couple of cases other musicians have introduced themselves to me as “friends of xxx” artist that I like, and again I’ve usually at least visited their page to check them out. I’ve bought at least 2 albums by unsigned or minor artists that way, but conversely in other cases I’ve also decided that no, I still really don’t like hip-hop and not bothered with the musician that has tried to friend me.

There’s an iPhone application now, and I guess that has helped me to keep up with the status of folks on there and what they are doing, too. It has rekindled my interest a little.

The annoyances

A couple of things really are not great, though.

First, there’s a the perennial make-your-eyes-bleed-its-so-horrible design of MySpace pages. They really are awful, and although the refreshed header and button design introduced this year makes it a little cleaner, the majority of MySpace pages still look as though a 5 year old has plastered the most gaudy advert they can find onto a computer screen and then scribbled on it with crayon. There’s also the language and slang used by the majority of regular users WHO FINK THAT SHOUTING MAKES U KULER LOL (you get the point).

Today I received 3 emails from a guy who was trying to promote his MySpace profile and music. There were a few annoyances here… firstly he was using some automated mailing list thing to spam me, not using MySpace at all… secondly he sent me THREE of the darned emails, one of which contained the HTML code for a Flash player of his music, which I assume he thought would play directly in my mail… and again, there was that lack of grammar or spelling that characterises certain MySpace users.

Reader, on receipt of the third email, I took a look at the guy’s site.

Not my kind of music, to be perfectly honest. So I sent him a mail on MySpace asking him not to spam, and explaining that although I’m sure he’s a great guy, sending me repeated messages about himself was not going to encourage me to either listen, or tell others to listen – quite the opposite in fact.

The response?

not spam if ya aint sellin nothing, Sry Your pissed off over email, try Being born in poverty and haveing to become somthing with no help, if you got that many that just means im doing my job

*sigh* Well that’s another MySpace user blocked, then…

Social networking with schoolfriends in Poland

One of the sites making waves in Poland at the moment is Nasza Klasa, or Our Class. When we were there at Christmas, the whole family was getting very excited about it – reconnecting with old friends and giggling at old pictures. A lot of fun.

It’s interesting that this social network is even needed. Lots of local / native language sites and networks do exist, not only in Poland, particularly in the Far East for instance… this is one area where sites like Facebook sometimes fail. Poland in particular has its own instant messaging network (Gadu-Gadu, on which I have an account but never seem to be able to login using Adium) and other reinventions of the otherwise English-speaking wheel. Although some of my family are on Facebook, they are also enjoying using the Polish alternatives.

Nasza Klasa is suffering growing pains having gained several million users in a very short space of time… it’s particularly evident in the performance of the service, unfortunately. The site reminds me a lot of Friends Reunited, which I suppose was one of the earlier social networks. The idea is the same – reconnecting schoolfriends – and even the colours and layout are not dissimilar to the original Friends Reunited design. Looking at Friends Reunited now (part of the ITV empire, for some reason), it does look horribly dated. We complain about Facebook’s walled garden, but FR has absolutely no APIs or feeds, you have to visit the site to do anything, and you have to pay to be able to contact your friends. Thank goodness the web moved on.

Annoyances and discoveries

Little annoyances

Twhirl on OS X refuses to remember the configuration option NOT to play sounds when new messages arrive, between restarts anyway.

My Facebook profile sometimes doesn’t load, I just get a blank page.

Little discoveries

ecto 3 can correctly tag WordPress posts – you need to configure Blog Settings-> Templates-> Tags to put the tags in the Keywords section of the post. It then doesn’t add Technorati links to the post, but what the heck.

Quick Look in Leopard will preview a .vcf file (but, kinda oddly, not a .vcard file).

The improved stats page on the WP.com dashboard now means that I see a link to the specific day of my largest-ever number of hits, and the graph is animated, faster to draw, and works in FF3b2.

A very talented consultant I’ve just spent the past couple of months working with has a blogtwo, in fact – this is a good thing.

Google gobbling

Google’s acquisition of Jaiku came as a bit of a surprise to me.

Robert Scoble says it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, and that combined with Google’s other properties, this will all translate into some super Facebook-killing announcement next month.

The thing is, I’ve been a bit amazed by some of Google’s acquisitions. I can’t say that I see all of them as totally successful. Blogger in particular hasn’t seen much love, apart from a spruce-up earlier in the year when they finally started to catch up to WordPress (and WP has continued to jump forward since then). Picasa? Sorry, but IMO Flickr still wipes the floor with that… Yahoo! has been pretty clever about not pasting logos all over the site and has quietly and neatly integrated Flickr, Upcoming, del.icio.us and other properties. Continuing the Google theme: Jotspot, YouTube… not sure they are examples of sites or tools that have been well-integrated into the Google “family”.

As Mark Cathcart pointed out, this doesn’t mean that all of Google’s acquisitions have been unsuccessful. For instance, Google Earth (Keyhole) is superb, and has great integration with Maps, Panoramio, SketchUp etc.. Google Docs is great too, although I don’t personally use it.

So will the mighty new Googaiku kill Twitter? Personally, unless they do something startling as Scoble suggests, I don’t see why it should. My network is all on Twitter, and despite trying both Jaiku and Pownce, I’ve not been tempted away despite various the outages and wobbles Twitter has gone through. It is simple, multipurpose, and remarkably useful… I don’t know what the business model is, but I know that I like the tool.

The social software space remains extremely interesting. Times change. I wonder what’s next?

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