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This article was published on March 18, 2012

Facebook updates Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, you have until March 22 to respond

Facebook updates Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, you have until March 22 to respond
Jamillah Knowles
Story by

Jamillah Knowles

Jamillah is the UK Editor for The Next Web. She's based in London. You can hear her on BBC Radio 5Live's Outriders. Follow on Twitter @jemi Jamillah is the UK Editor for The Next Web. She's based in London. You can hear her on BBC Radio 5Live's Outriders. Follow on Twitter @jemimah_knight or drop a line to [email protected]

Facebook has updated its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. They shift things all the time right? So what is this and why should you care?

From the Facebook Governance page itself,

“This Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (Statement) derives from the Facebook Principles, and governs our relationship with users and others who interact with Facebook. By using or accessing Facebook, you agree to this Statement.”

That’s right, by using or accessing Facebook, you agree to their statement, so best to take a look. The last revision was in April 2011.

Though most of us barely glance at terms and conditions or heaven forbid read an instruction manual or guarantee sheet with technology, it’s important to keep across changes, especially if there is a right to reply.

The latest update from the social media giant states,

We’re letting you know of some changes we propose for the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, an important document that describes our relationship with users and others who interact with Facebook. Many of the changes are administrative (for instance, replacing references to our “Privacy Policy” with “Data Use Policy”) and others make our practices and policies more clear.

The notification page carrying news of this update goes on to list examples of the updates proposed. Which reads,

Sharing Your Content and Information. We’ve updated this language to be clearer and consistent with what has long been reflected in our Data Use Policy and our practices – that when you, or friends you have authorized to see your information, use an App, you are sharing your info with that App, which is what you consented to when you installed the App.

Safety. In this section, we have changed the language from “hateful” content to “hate speech” because we think the term “hate speech” better captures our policy on prohibited content, which hasn’t changed. This is also consistent with our new “Community Standards”.

Special Provisions Applicable to Social Plugins. This section previously applied to Share Links, but those provisions also apply to the use of all Social Plugins. Therefore we have replaced references to Share Links with Social Plugins.

Special Provisions Applicable to Software. We want to ensure our products, which may include downloadable products, are current. We have added this section to give you notice that we may provide upgrades and updates to your downloaded products as they become available. Additionally, we have included language that prohibits users from trying to extract protected source code from our products unless we have granted the user express permission.

Those examples pertain to changes in language terms used in their Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. If you want to see the full extent of the changes there is a PDF of tracked changes and links to where you can leave comments in different languages.

A few points of interest

Interesting points in red correction text within that PDF include the fact that the term, “You will not develop or operate a third-party application containing alcohol-related or other mature content (including advertisements) without appropriate age-based restrictions.” now also includes dating apps.

The term, “You will not do anything that could disable, overburden, or impair the proper working of Facebook, such as a denial of service attack.” Also now includes appearance, functionality and rendering.

“You will not facilitate or encourage any violations of this Statement” has an addition of “or our policies”, so lots more reading if you really want to find out what all of the rules are.

Tagging, as an ongoing fear for people who don’t even use Facebook and would hope not to be identified in network that can be searched under certain settings, has also been extended. Thou shalt not tag those who do not wish to be tagged, sounds like a game waiting to happen.

Buying, selling and advertising

Facebook Deals have naturally been scratched out altogether after the service closed in August. The terms now replaced with the single line, “If you make a payment on Facebook or use Facebook Credits, you agree to our Payments Terms.”

If you advertise on Facebook, you might want to take a look through your special provisions in the statement. Here’s an extract showing some of the changes, it should be read in full along with the rest of the changes.

The Statement of Rights and Responsibilities also points out what Facebook is not responsible for. In this case you’ll find most of the changes on that topic under ‘Disputes’. Here’s an excerpt – not to be taken out of context with the rest of the document.

The line about data responsibility may be a reaction to the continuing hacks that bring pornography and violent imagery to the timelines of unsuspecting users. Last year’s wide scale attack brought particularly disturbing images to users, not something you’d want to be responsible for clearing.

It’s the way they say it

Many of the other amendments are related to the changing language of Facebook. You no longer have a profile, but a timeline. Share Links are Social Plugins.

When Facebook makes changes to the layout of its site or even tweaks the font users can often be found griping in their timelines hoping things will revert. The real changes in a social media site happen in the background though.

Your rights, your content and your understanding of what you can do in such an environment, depend on your understanding of documents like the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

If you think that’s a drag, keep in mind that Facebook will be required to undergo regular evaluations every two years for the next twenty years to ensure it meets the requirements of the Federal Trade Commission, following a settlement on privacy charges. They have plenty of homework to do too.

If Facebook and other social networks have responsibilities, then so do you, to check that you still agree to their terms as they evolve. If you don’t agree, then use your right to leave a comment with Facebook so that the company knows.

Hat tip to LuoWei @lqkwyg 

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