Facebook could easily be used for evil

Dr. Evil

A friend of mine recently abandoned his web site in favour of Facebook. It got me thinking about all the information on Facebook and how it could be used, specifically for evil purposes. The information about people includes the obvious such as religious and political beliefs and all kinds of other personal data. This combined with your viewing history and the information that could mined is almost infinitely vast.

Google obviously sees the value in the social networking site as they reportedly made an offer of 2 billion dollars last spring to Facebook. If any company could mine and monetize a site, Google is definitely up for the challenge. Even with their anti-evil company mantra, saying and doing are two completely different things in my experience, perhaps the temptation would be too alluring.

I took a look at Facebook's terms of use to find out what rights you were giving up on content you uploaded or added to the site. Sure enough, I was alarmed by what I discovered.

"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 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."

I guess its not really surprising that the site terms would contain a carte blanche statement that allows Facebook to do whatever they want with any content you add to the site. This could include the obvious of selling the data to marketing companies similar to what credit card companies have been doing for years. It doesn't take much imagination to come up with much more sinister uses of the data however far fetched.

I am still using Facebook even knowing this but have decided to take a more careful approach to what data I share and give up all rights and title to.