Why I Left Facebook

By   June 16, 2007

An extra entry for you today, since Facebook decided to respond so viciously to my note there. In the note, I complained about how imbalanced its terms of use are. You’re likely to be a Facebook user, but you’re not likely to be a Facebook terms of use reader, so let me enlighten you a bit:

By using Facebook, you agree to grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual right to use any material you post there for any purpose they wish. This was all fine with me, since they also have a moderation clause: You can revoke the irrevocable right (makes sense eh?) by terminating your account. This provides you with a sort of backup escape route if hell breaks lose and Facebook starts using your content or your information in ways you don’t like.
But like many big American companies who like to think they’re morally justified to act as God, they have a ‘We pwn all you noobs’ clause as well. Facebook reserves the right to change the terms of use at any time with no prior warning. You automatically accept such new terms by continuing to use the site. There is no visible warning that the terms have changed when they change, you have to click your way to the terms page again (yeah, lots of people do that, LOL). By the way, in civilized countries, such as Norway, contracts that reserve the right for one of the parts to unilaterally change the contract are illegal. However, Norwegians are still bound by the terms, since this is an an American company.
Today, just for fun, I checked the terms of use page, since I don’t want to be pwned. And guess what, the terms had changed on May 11. The bastards removed my emergency escape clause. There and then, I was left with the choice of immediately leaving Facebook, or be pwned forever. I left.
I don’t think it’s likely that Facebook will abuse my info in any way, but I’m not willing to take the chance. And I get really mad when companies throw terms at me that are so wildly imbalanced. To illustrate, assume you were playing cards with someone. But that someone you’re playing with reserves the right to change the rules at will. You on the other hand can’t suggest rules, and you automatically agree to new rules by continuing to play. The rules start out saying that he scores a point whenever he gets a spades, clubs or hearts card. You only get half a point if you happen to get the queen of spades. After a while, you grow tired of this game (your odds of winning are pretty low, and the game is pretty boring). But your friend likes the game so much (because he’s winning big time), and he senses you’re about to leave. He thus invents a new rule that prohibits you from ever leaving, and you automatically agree by picking up the next card. What do you do?

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