Behind Facebook’s terms of service

Elika Beck, Staff writer

“Our terms aren’t just a document that protects our rights; it’s the governing document for how the service is used by everyone across the world,” Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, said last week regarding the terms of service. He said this in a statement deploring people to read the terms because they are, in his mind, important for users to read.

“It’s faster if you don’t.” “No one does.” “I got a life!” “I didn’t really care to.” “I enjoy my time.” “Too much to read.” “I was too lazy!” “They’re REALLY long.” “I didn’t want to.” These were several popular responses that students gave for why they the do not read the Facebook terms of service. A survey of 200 south students found that 87.6% of students have a Facebook account and of those students 83.7% did not read the terms of service.

Students either don’t want to take the time or think that there can be nothing of import for them to read. Are there some rules that students are unaware of that they break everyday?

For those of you who already have created a Facebook account, the terms of services can be located at the bottom of the page by clicking on ‘terms’. At first glance they don’t look to long, maybe three pages, but at the bottom of the page is a list of links for more details on certain aspects of the terms. Many things stated in the terms don’t apply to everyone as they are terms specifically for advertising, mobile Facebook, and applications among other things.

Some frequently broken rules that apply to everyone with an account include: you must be 13 or older to create a account. You cannot provide any false information. You must keep your personal information correct and up to date. You will not share your password or access some one else’s account. And you will not tag people in photos or posts without their consent. You can’t have more than one profile. Facebook also reserves the right to delete any posted content they deem unfit for their site.

Since the consequence of terms violations is either deleting content or removing you from Facebook, it could be beneficial to read the terms so that you are never in a situation where your account is deleted. Of students who have read the terms junior Adam Moore said he read them because “It is important to know what you can and cannot do.”

The terms have gone through many revisions. Back in February of 2009 they changed the terms so that users then agreed to give Facebook possession of any photos they posted. Many people were quite upset about this though the site said that they weren’t going to sell them or use them in anyway that would harm users. However, this was retracted by popular demand. Facebook also soon after started an official group where users could post ideas and comments for/on the terms of service.