I believe by now if you an internet addict, tech news freak or social networking geek then Facebook’s recent farce on updating their terms of service might have struck you. The word around blogosphere is negative to say the least. If you check Techmeme’s page, the news and opinions of major tech blogs can be seen spilled all over. Even so, Perez Hilton (who is a celebrity gossip blogger) took his pot-shot on Facebook and denounced Facebook’s move by asking people to boycott it. Agreed! I share similar kind of opinion.

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But the moot question is – Who’s content is it anyways?

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First of all, couple of things I would like to point out -all this while whatever we have using in Facebook (extend it to most of web even) is free i.e. we are not paying for it. With that model in mind, how does a social networking site earns money since it has become quite difficult to do so in social networking space keeping the present context of online display advertising in radar.

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Now getting back to the question – who’s content is it? Who owns the content? Is it us who without any prejudices (i.e. of course without reading terms of service of any website) upload pictures, videos and any sort of shareable material for our friends to see or the site owner who helps us upload those content in the most easiest way possible for our friend to see.

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The way I see it, it’s a classical debate between content providers (i.e. us as users) and the channel. When the channel in between uses that same data for its own use (commercial purpose) without taking due permission of the content owner, then we have a debate of course. But what about the space and the channel that have been provided to us in the first place. Are we taking that for granted? I think we are and in this case of Facebook’s new TOS, all the heated debate is due to that. Primarily the cause of the debate as I pointed out in one of my tweet is the surreptitious disclosure route which Facebook has chosen which raised eye-brows of many like me.

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But can we really blame Facebook for it? I don’t think we should because we are partly responsible for sharing our information without knowing the repurcussions of how, when and where those important personal information would be used.

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If this bothers you, then how are you going to respond to this – mobile carriers can sell your information for pennies where five major UK carriers are banding together to pool customer data so that it can be put into a giant database and then be used to sell advertising. This is a one off instances but I presume we should wait for more global carriers to do the same (my hunch is they already are doing so in a more modified below the radar mode already).

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How I see this whole turn of event is Facebook being plain unlucky to fall under such scrutiny of using keeping back user’s data even though they close their account. So from now on, users like us who use web as their open & free landscape should use it with more discretion and responsibility. But it all boils down to one thing i.e. trust.

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So a website owning a part of our personal information is the part of the whole deal where owning our content is our responsibility and we should think twice about what is being shared between multivariate nodes.

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To conclude, I think after such uproar, Facebook will surely tweak their terms of service to make it more user friendly which again points towards the question of who owns the content and for how long?

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Update: As mentioned, Facebook earlier today revised their Terms of Service (TOS) to original one.

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