Facebook overturns its new user information policy


Nice try, Facebook, and no one can blame you for giving it a shot. If Gimme Noise ran a social networking site that was 150 million strong, we'd be writing ourselves a cut of all those juicy profile pictures too.

Early Tuesday morning, a new Terms of Use policy (the online document that explains, in plain legalese, what Facebook can and can't do with your precious status updates) was quietly foisted on its users, containing, among other things, a line deletion that discreetly granted Facebook ownership of anything its users post in their profiles, even after they close their accounts.

Nerds worldwide took immediate evasive action. They angrily canceled their accounts by the thousands. They gorged administrative inboxes with fuming messages. And in a highly well thought-out ploy, even started a Facebook Group called "The People Against the New Terms of Service," a move that could be distantly compared to Al Qaeda setting up shop on the White Hosue lawn.

But guess what? It actually worked. Just a shade over 24 hours later, Facebook fled under a hail of arrows to its ogre cave, promising under duress that they would be returning, albeit temporarily, to the previous terms of use, which gives users full rights over every event invite you send out.

The level of discourse on Facebook might seem to be of such syntactical, intellectual, and spiritual unimportance that it seems inconceivable that anyone would really be upset that Facebook would lay claim to that picture of you singing Karaoke at Grumpy's, or the wall postings you made when your girlfriend lost her job.

But remember that artist communities, band pages, and content of real import is being uploaded daily, and the new terms of use (rescinded for now) would have given Facebook sole ownership over all of it. Say what you want about social networking sites-- that's some Draconian bullshit.

The silver lining here is that, at long last, a living nerve has been found in a generation widely derided for its apathy and inaction. Here's hoping that this massive and rabid campaign might inspire similar action when it comes to things of more sweeping importance. Prop 8? The closing of Arts High? The signing of Joe Crede? There's no shortage of actual problems right in our own front yard. Since we're already up, let's get to work.