Web2.0 - Read the terms of use, next time!

There's something bothering me more and more as time passes by with the "Web 2.0". Yet it's not something directly related to the websites or companies themselves, such as the stupid and intentionnaly-misspelled names.


What's bothering me is that an increasing number of persons seem to complain about the privacy of their data. I began to think about this when I saw that some friends joined a Facebook group that was meant as some kind of petition so that "Facebook respects the privacy of our data!!". After running a quick search, it turns out that there are dozens or groups like that one.

So what, exactly, are those people doing when they sign up on a website like Facebook ? If you're required to abide by the "Terms of Use", and don't take the time to read them (even though Facebook's are not that hard to read), you shouldn't complain. Or if you do, just do some research, and you'll see that, yes, you did agree to grant all rights over whatever you post.

That's the relevant part of the Facebook terms of use :

"By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content."

I really think that is explicit enough... But even if one doesn't read that before posting stuff, they should stop and think for a second. What is Facebook ? Right, it's a company. A company that provides a service in order to gain money!

So yeah, you're "free" to use Facebook, but it still has a cost. And like the vast majority of the Web 2.0 websites around, Facebook lives by using user-generated content. Facebook doesn't care about what photo you post, what your friends are or what you're doing right now. But, basically, you spend time on facebook filling in a small part of a huge database which they'll extract data from. It's the same with, who only cares about the enormous database it collects. Or even with google. Sure, those company use advertising to gain money, but that advertising wouldn't get them as much money if they didn't target it.

And take Google for example. Does anyone really thinks they're the best search engine around just because of their algorithms ? Well, of course those play an important role, but the sheer amount of data they collect from search queries also helps.

Well, I won't go on with this rant for much longer, so I'll conclude. To those wanting to be able to post your whole private life online free of charge and at the same time keep complete control over the data they voluntarily publish : please, either start your own company with that ethos (and good luck with that, it would be great), or realize it's like going to a restaurant and asking for free food. You won't get it.

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