Many things in life is not as simple as it seems. The recent flip and flop of Facebook’s changing of it Terms of Service is an example of a Pandora’s Box that is now opened and has some serious implication.
For Facebook, it has been forced to take the high road and created a Facebook group for concerned users to help draft a “Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities”. So the genie is now out.
More interestingly, this Fox news article is reminding us the Terms of Service we may have agreed to already if we are users of gmail, LinkedIn, Monster.com, Apple iTune, YouTube, etc. It will not surprise me if some of these services’ TOS will eventually be tackled and forced to change some draconian provisions. Strategically, since Facebook has already invoked the high ideals of a “Bill of Rights”, it makes sense to sort out the TOS with Facebook first. Like other negotiations, whatever Facebook set as a standard can be easily used as a benchmark to try to get compliances with other companies.
In the upside down world of social network. The straw that broke the camel’s back may end up helping the camel gains strength to lift the world and teach users around the world to organize and help change “routine”/”standard” industry practice.
A friend suggested these kind of draconian provisions are not new and users have been agreeing to them for years. I thought about this a little. I suppose my reply is US had slavery for years, and then “suddenly” the practice of slavery become unacceptable to some. In our social network age, the original post that pointed out the TOS issue became a lighting rod which focused all the negative attentions onto Facebook and forcing it to address the problem. But you see, with Facebook’s initiative to draft a “Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities”, people around the world have been taught an important lesson of the power within them.
Call me naive, Suzie White, Corporate Counsel for Commercial Transactions, should be credited and thanked for opening Facebook’s Pandora’s Box and triggering an avalanche of change. It is about time the extreme and draconian provisions of these TOS be removed/rephrased/reworded. Again, it is paradoxical that an act to maximize a private corporation’s legal protection may have launched a movement to reduce corporations’ legal protections to a necessary (and minimum?) level.
P.S. Some entrepreneurs or business investors may be wondeing what all the big fuss about TOS. And how dare “customers” are complaining about things like TOS when they are not even paying a cent for these great services.