The February 4th change allowed the company to retain the right to any information users post on the site as well as the ability to retain archived copies of the content even if it has been removed. Consumerist.com referred to the policy as "We Can Do Anything We Want With Your Content. Forever."
Now, why do I bring this up in the context of identity? Elementary, my dear reader.
Facebook’s attempt to own user content is more than just an intellectual property issue. While some acknowledge intellectual property rights are a factor in their righteous hatred of the new policy, for the most part, their objections centre around an indefinable sense that the new policy is just plain wrong.
I think that this “wrongness” revolves around the feeling that Facebook Inc.’s policy results not just in owning user content, but also in owning user identity.
Think about it. Facebook users pour so much of themselves and who they want to be into their Facebook profile and usage habits. Every post tells readers something about the user, whether it be information transmitted consciously, or implicit information the user has no idea he or she is imparting.
In a sense, Facebook’s policy wanted people to “sell their souls” to Facebook Inc. for the privilege of interaction which could be as easily achieved face-to-face or by phone.
No wonder there was such a public outcry. No wonder the policy was revoked. No wonder I stand by my decision to resist peer pressure to succumb to the all-powerful Facebook.
After all, even though they didn’t get away with it this time, that doesn’t guarantee that the whole mess can’t happen again.