The Recent Rash of "I declare Facebook can't..." Postings

I am no big fan of Facebook corporation. Like Google, they are here to exploit our data and I don't love that. However, Facebook's claim to intellectual property that you put on this site is not that weird, extreme or unreasonable.

We all post stuff here so that people can see it. The law says that you own the copyright when you type stuff, post pictures, etc. If Facebook shows that information to your friends, Facebook has violated your copyright and you could sue them.

The reason their terms of service include a license to your posts is so that they are not at legal risk when they show your posts. It's necessary and reasonable.

Some people get upset that the license language allows them to create derivative works. This is also necessary. Eg, any of us can request a copy of our Facebook page/history. This is a derivative work and anything that is in it would be a copyright violation without that provision.

Privacy is a weird issue in the modern age. One big shot I pay attention (Bill Joy) to said, in the nineties, "Get over it. There is no such thing as privacy any more." I think he was probably right.

However, I retain a certain amount by not posting things I feel private about. Facebook will never be able to reveal my important secrets because I don't post them. What I do post, I want known. Honestly, I think that's true of us all.

Which is to say, don't worry about Facebook. Worry about what you say. Facebook is a wonderful thing that provides us with the ability to have conversations with each other though we are separate in time and space. Honestly, I rejoice in it. I think you should, too.
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Further, I think the privacy control Facebook offers is effective. If you say you only want 'friends' to see your stuff, that's all that will. Same with their other controls. Though it seems as if the advertising is violating your privacy, it isn't. Facebook isn't telling advertisers anything. The advertiser says, "I want you to show this to X kind of people." Facebook does the rest internally. This is also true of their ads that appear on other sites. There are two things to worry about. The most important is the way we use Facebook. None of us are very careful about who we befriend and few of us are very careful about what we say. This is far and away the most important privacy risk related to Facebook. The other thing is the potential for a motivated hacker at an advertising company to figure out things about you. This is possible but, like identity theft, requires bad luck and a skilled bad guy. I do not consider this to be an important risk. Bottom line, though, is that I treat Facebook according to a childhood dictum, "Don't write down things you don't want posted on a bulletin board." That is, I treat *everything* I type or upload into Facebook as public information and, to the best of my ability, never post anything I wouldn't want to see go viral. Also, I give thought to the fact that Bill Joy was right when he made an observation in the '90s. Privacy really is a thing of the past. That's bothersome but, really, what's the harm? I've been an active online person for over twenty years. I made a decision early not to conceal my identity. If you google tqwhite, you will find a substantial online corpus. I've never had any bad consequences. Not saying it couldn't happen, but in this anecdotal, but real, case, no harm. Bottom line is, I think we can all relax. Facebook isn't really much of a problem.