Bill of Rights for the Social Web

If there’s one thing I do know, it’s what I don’t know.  Only recently (in large part due to “The Search”), did I discover a small portion of what Google knows about me.  And I have shared even more information with Facebook, LinkedIn, AIM, Technorati, etc.  What can these sites do with my information?  I don’t know–I am only beginning to figure that out.  Do I need protection?  My data and metadata are floating around the web, and I have check-marked the box for it all to be used at the discretion of each company.  At first glance, Twitter seems “safe”…but what about Facebook?

Facebook Terms of Use (“User Content Posted on the Site”):

“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.”

After reading Facebook’s Terms of Use, I thought of the first paragraph of Mary Howitt’s poem, The Spider and The Fly.  While I don’t believe that there’s a nefarious scheme afoot, I now realize that my information is not wholly my own–and “who goes up the winding stair can ne’er come down again.”  I was not fully aware of this…I guess I am guilty of not reading the fine-print.

socialweb-billofrights.jpg  Do we need a Bill of Rights for the Social Web? 

“We publicly assert that all users of the social web are entitled to certain fundamental rights, specifically:

As a consumer, I would welcome such a statement of principles that summarizes each company’s commitment to its customers.  How to “enforce” these principles remains a mystery–although I am confident Smarr, Canter, Scoble and Arrington have ideas.  I look forward to and appreciate the dialog.  In the meantime, I will read the fine-print.


~ by eTechnorize on February 18, 2008.

4 Responses to “Bill of Rights for the Social Web”

  1. How would we regulate AND enforce a Bill that affords certain rights to everyone on the planet who uses the Web…or would the rights be exclusive to those of us who are already used to living our lives under a different Bill of Rights? Maybe we don’t need one. Just like corporations, maybe individuals could benefit from open sourcing our personal info.

  2. I think a “Bill of Rights”–or rather, a voluntary commitment to best business practices is a conversation worth having. Corporations choose which information or IP to open source. I would welcome having the same choice.

  3. Becky, it seems to me that posting any “rights” on web content is sort of silly. I know that was a suggested question to address, but it seems to use an older model of social order (i.e. a government and a constitution – a hierarchy, if you will). I know there is a sort of camaraderie and sharing of values on the Internet among a lot of users, and it might help there for users to start to define their ideas of what is fair use of information and what is not, but it still seems that the law of the jungle rules. If you or your information are out there – it is game. I think we all have to learn to live with that. Alan

  4. Rosie and Alan,
    Thank you very much for your comments. This is quite a learning process for me–whole new world. I am not one for “regulations” for the Social Web (almost sounds like an oxymoron). I simply hope for transparency about what is done with my information (and more importantly, my children’s information). I was shocked to learn what Facebook can and has done with customer information. I am glad to know this now. I guess it is my lack of knowledge that concerns me. Very slowly, I will learn…I think! I’m grateful for your input.

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