Sunday, February 22, 2009

Facebook ownz joo!

English to 1337-speak translator: Facebook owns you

On Friday, I went to see the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine's annual play, Daffydil - written, produced, and directed by students for 98 years. This year's iteration, titled Internuts, follows a cast of unlikely heroes through a comedic near-future dystopia.

Take it to the LIMIT!!! One... last... time!!!

The year is 20XX. The invention of the "wireless Internet brain chip" has allowed humankind to be permanently connected to the Internet with every depolarization of their neurons. Information access is free-flowing and instantaneous, ushering in a new era of peace and prosperity. But the Internet is a far from reliable source of information, and with errors and misinformation shunted directly to people's brains, erratic behaviour quickly ensues. Meanwhile, malicious, moustached, and trench-coat-wearing Internet zombies known as Creepers are appearing all over the world and wreaking havoc upon the citizenry.

It's up to the employees of the Internet regulator ANIS (Analytical Networking Internet Solutions: Pronounced "anus") and an impoverished duo of unwired brothers to shut the Internet down and restore sanity to an otherwise insane society. Their quest takes them through Jewish female-only graveyards, exchanges with Peter Parker and Michael Jackson, and sensual dreams about... cake?

Remember the words of my Uncle Ben: Rice ready in 15 minutes!

In an intense final showdown, the protagonists confront Facebook creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who has morphed into a demonic monster (read: final boss) of Balrog-like proportions and characteristics. Many gunshot wounds and one severed arm later, Zuckerberg is vanquished, paving the way for a blissfully Internet-free society.

Daffydil 2009 was an amusing and innuendo-laden theatrical trip (kudos to J-Rock for his role in the band). Yet despite its comedic pop-culture intentions, its casting of Zuckerberg as the devil may not be as outrageous as it sounds.

I remember, some time ago, following the poetic blogging of my friend, "Kate." Her blog vanished after she realized that it was detectably public. I subsequently asked her why she didn't publish her poems on Facebook if she wanted to keep them between friends and acquaintances. She replied that Facebook's Terms of Service were arranged such that anything you post on Facebook belongs to Facebook, and that she didn't want her poems to fall out of her hands.

This was news to me. Facebook is ubiquitous - used compulsively by virtually every university-age individual in North America to share photos, links, and comments; plan events; and stalk their friends. Countless pieces of data change hands under its watchful eye everyday with nary a thought nor doubt. It was not the last time I would hear about Facebook's sneaky and insidious ways (I mean, who reads the Terms of Service anyways?).

You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof.

In an article appearing in the Consumerist last Sunday, Facebook's new-and-improved Terms of Service (TOS) were highlighted. The new TOS purposefully excludes a clause in the original, which expressed that Facebook's rights to the above content would expire if you chose to terminate your account. In other words, now if you pull out of Facebook, your content still belongs to them... forever.

While Facebook claims that its TOS are for logistical and legal reasons in the sharing of information between users (and certainly, they are providing a valuable service), the terms that we have all agreed to seem to grant quite broad and sweeping rights to the stewards of our information.

At least user content usage seems to be limited by strict privacy settings.


Teddy said...

I expected melancholic music at your site,
Only to find something upbeat and bright.
You must be finished with korean tv,
And moved on to something more yippee.

a_ndy said...

It's true that I'm watching less Korean TV,
Affecting the music, indeed that might be

Still, I've been watching many things that are sad,
So I doubt that's the reason the music is glad

It might simply be a good time for a switch -
Sad, gloomy music for awhile to be ditched