If you’re an eager follower of Facebook, you’ll probably have noticed that there have been no recent updates from me. That’s right; I’ve been purged out of Facebook. I’ve toyed with the idea of uploading a fake ID card just to see what their reaction would be, or, failing that, to join any of the several class-action suits against Facebook’s policies on disabling accounts, but, at the end of the day, why should I bother? I joined Google +1 instead.
Sure, like many who were “threatened” to get their account removed, I’ve added a page for my profile on Facebook. Facebook Pages, however, are seriously limited in functionality. And what functionality matters? The ability to integrate with other social platforms — games, blogs, and so forth. Only the most recent applications will allow you to register and login with a “Facebook Page” instead of a true Facebook account; it’s true that Facebook is threatening to deprecate the old API (which only accepts true FB usernames) and favour the new one (which apparently allows Pages too), but this is messy and will take a long time to be universally supported. You cannot join any applications/games, and if there is a way to join groups and participate in questions/answers (some of them are quite inspiring areas of debate), I have yet to find them. “Likes” will show your real name, unless there is a hidden option somewhere to make that disappear. So Facebook Pages are second-rate citizens of Facebook: you’re allowed to get a taste of all the fun, but you’re not entitled not even close to the full range of options.
Well, Facebook is a free service, and under US law, they’re entitled to set the terms and conditions they like, and nobody can complain about that. Talk about customer rights! The customer has the right to remain silent — that’s pretty much the only right you have (note that Linden Lab has a similar policy for deleting accounts without giving a reason). My only complaint here is that I’ve registered with Facebook under different terms of service: in the olden days of Facebook glory, when it was merely a rich start-up not making any profit but burning venture capital and speculating with the Russian Mafia, Facebook allowed artistic and literary pseudonyms and somehow even encouraged “celebrities” to set up their accounts there. Now that Zuckerberg finally owns a profitable company, he delegated all that to “Facebook Pages” and changed the terms of service, giving you just the option to leave.
The right to change terms of service is a complex legal issue, at least in my jurisdiction. Of course you can change terms of service if local legislation changes (that sort of forces terms of services to change), or to protect consumers’ rights better, or to somehow address illegal activity which was overseen on the original terms of service. For instance, terminating accounts that just have pornography might be illegal, if the site accepts registrations from minors; adding a clause on the terms of service to forbid pornography (or to limit access to adults) is reasonable.| | | Next → |