Facebook’s ties, privacy policy, terms of use, and code of conduct


Facebook was started by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004 as a way of helping college students keep in touch. Today it’s got over 34 million users (as of July 2007), is accessible by anyone (who signs up, of course), and is referred to by some as “Crackbook” because it’s so addicting to them. You can connect to friends (old and new) and tell them everything about yourself in your profile (as opposed to emailing them and telling them yourself). Now that the obvious is out of the way:

$500,000 was invested in Facebook by Peter Thiel, founder and former CEO of Paypal.
(Thiel is on the board of the conservative group VanguardPAC)

$12.7 million was invested in Facebook by Accel Partners (Manager: James Breyer, former chairman of National Venture Capital Association, or NVAC for short). Also serving on that board, Gilman Louie, CEO of In-Q-Tel (In-Q-Tel is a venture capital firm established in 1999 by the C.I.A., and one of In-Q-Tel’s business goals is “nurturing data mining technologies”). Breyer was also on the board of BBN Technologies (which created the ARPANET, also known as the Internet).

Dr. Anita Jones joined the board of BBN in October of 2004. Before that, Jones was on the board for In-Q-Tel, and before that was the director of Defense Research and Engineering for the US Department of Defense (one of her jobs as director was overseeing the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA for short). DARPA funded the IAO (Information Awareness Office), and the IAO’s main goal is to gather as much information about everyone as possible for easy perusal by the US Government. But don’t worry, funding for the IAO from DARPA was cut off after Congress investigated it in 2003 (and hopefully found it unconstitutional), although some programs run under the IAO are still running under different funding.

So Facebook appears to be nothing more than an innocent website devoted to social networking, enabling you to voluntarily reveal absolutely every detail about yourself. And the connections that Facebook has to the C.I.A., Department of Defense, and In-Q-Tel may be brushed off easily, but should they? Facebook allows you to tell everything about yourself to other people, and lists who your friends are (with pictures of both that can be ‘tagged’ by almost anyone). Do you not see the brainwashing going on here? Instead of the C.I.A. doing research on you and taking massive amounts of time to build a file on you, all they have to do is log on to Facebook (using a phony name in a shell account, which is against Facebook’s policy stating that you can’t give a fake name, but all the C.I.A., the NSA or even the FBI has to do is cite “reasons of national security” and that’s that); you are now doing their job FOR them. The wolves no longer have to go out and hunt because the prey has willingly come to them. Don’t you see how easy it is for them to investigate you now? And why would they need these minute details about you? How about for the purposes of framing you? Suppose you have a Facebook account and you post some not-so-nice things about the C.I.A.. They don’t like it, but can’t shut you up directly. What to do? Frame you for a crime! Now, I myself am not a spook, so I can’t describe for you in exquisite detail how this would be done, but I assure you it is possible. Not only that, but everyone that reads your posts could be punished as accessories to the crime! So instead of direct physical punishment (that comes later in the form of “aggressive interrogation”, or TORTURE for short) for your right to use freedom of speech, they frame you for a crime, arrest you, torture you, drag your name through the mud to make you look like a monster, gather public support for your indefinite imprisonment, and then make you disappear (just like Osama bin Laden, who mysteriously never seems to age in each video that he “releases”).


Here’s a fun little game: read through Facebook’s Privacy policy and insert phrases ending with “the C.I.A.”. For example:

“Although we allow you to set privacy options that limit access to your pages, please be aware that no security measures are perfect or impenetrable”


“Although we allow you to set privacy options that limit access to your pages, please be aware that no security measures are perfect or impenetrable – this allows what is known as ‘data mining’ by the C.I.A.

“We cannot control the actions of other Users with whom you may choose to share your pages and information.”

Turns into…

“We cannot control the actions of other Users with whom you may (or may not) choose to share your pages and information, like the C.I.A.

“Therefore, we cannot and do not guarantee that User Content you post on the Site will not be viewed by unauthorized persons.”

“Therefore, we cannot and do not guarantee that User Content you post on the Site will not be viewed by unauthorized persons LIKE THE DAMN C.I.A.!

Here’s some damning information:

“Facebook may also collect information about you from other sources, such as newspapers, blogs, instant messaging services, and other users of the Facebook service through the operation of the service (e.g., photo tags) in order to provide you with more useful information and a more personalized experience.”

So I can’t simply email Facebook at info@facebook.com and TELL THEM HOW TO PROVIDE ME WITH MORE USEFUL INFORMATION AND A MORE PERSONALIZED EXPERIENCE? They AUTOMATICALLY ASSUME that I want them to do it FOR ME? What happened to a “suggestion box”?

The last part is the scariest.

“By using Facebook, you are consenting to have your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States.”

For what, exactly? Processing me into Guantanamo Bay in an easier fashion? Making my personal info accessible to the Department of Defense so that a file can be built on me according to the ‘User content’ that I have voluntarily provided?

“Your name, network names, and profile picture thumbnail will be available in search results across the Facebook network and those limited pieces of information may be made available to third party search engines.”

What “third party” search engines, exactly? Is there a reason we’re not allowed to know the names of these third party search engines?

“Facebook may use information in your profile without identifying you as an individual to third parties. We do this for purposes such as aggregating how many people in a network like a band or movie and personalizing advertisements and promotions so that we can provide you Facebook. We believe this benefits you (1). You can know more about the world around you and, where there are advertisements, they’re more likely to be interesting to you (2). For example, if you put a favorite movie in your profile, we might serve you an advertisement highlighting a screening of a similar one in your town (3). But we don’t tell the movie company who you are.(4)

(1)   WE believe this benefits you. WE believe that WE know what’s best for you. WE will tell you about what you like for reasons of CONVENIENCE. WE control the horizontal. WE control the vertical…
(2)   And if I don’t like ANY of the advertisements that I see ANYWHERE? Will you take them off for my benefit? Or will that anger the advertising agencies that help to pour so much money into Facebook that their crummy attempt at trying to mind-control a hapless consumer into buying their silly product for the next 20 years will be all for naught?
(3)   So you’re willing to put your neck on the line like that for little ol’ me? Why don’t you send me a Google map telling me how to get to the screening from my house? Why don’t you tell me how much money I have in the bank so I can spend it accordingly on pop, popcorn, candy bars, and stuffed toys while I’m at this screening? Why don’t you send a Facebook representative over to my house and tell me what to wear and how to talk?

We may use information about you that we collect from other sources, including but not limited to newspapers and Internet sources such as blogs, instant messaging services, Facebook Platform developers and other users of Facebook, to supplement your profile.”

Excuse me? Aren’t I supplementing my profile by adding my OWN information to it? Could they be referring to a different profile about me that I’m unaware of?

We share your information with third parties only in limited circumstances where we believe such sharing is 1) reasonably necessary to offer the service, 2) legally required or, 3) permitted by you.”

Who are these third parties, exactly? And what is meant by “legally required”? Is this where the ominous term ‘national security’ comes in?

“In addition, third party developers who have created and operate Platform Applications (“Platform Developers”), may also have access to your personal information (excluding your contact information) if you permit Platform Applications to access your data. Before allowing any Platform Developer to make any Platform Application available to you, Facebook requires the Platform Developer to enter into an agreement which, among other things, requires them to respect your privacy settings and strictly limits their collection, use, and storage of your information. However, while we have undertaken contractual and technical steps to restrict possible misuse of such information by such Platform Developers, we of course cannot and do not guarantee that all Platform Developers will abide by such agreements. Please note that Facebook does not screen or approve Platform Developers and cannot control how such Platform Developers use any personal information that they may obtain in connection with Platform Applications.”

So if you can’t guarantee that all Platform developers will abide by the agreements (THAT YOU REQUIRED THEM TO ENTER INTO) concerning the collection, use, and storage of my information, then why do you associate with them at all? If you’re so concerned with protecting my privacy, then why don’t you make these Platform developers enter into solid contracts that applies severe punishments in cases of mishandling my information? Do these Platform developers somehow generate revenue for you? Are you overly concerned with making as much money as possible? What’s the real deal here?

“We may be required to disclose user information pursuant to lawful requests, such as subpoenas or court orders, or in compliance with applicable laws. We do not reveal information until we have a good faith belief that an information request by law enforcement or private litigants meets applicable legal standards.”

Again, that ol’ ‘reasons of national security’ excuse will most likely be used here…and as a reminder to you: THEY WILL ONLY USE THAT EXCUSE ONCE THEY HAVE BEEN CAUGHT. If they can get away with it, they will. If they get caught in the process, they’ll toss out the excuse and continue on with what they’re doing.

“Advertisements that appear on Facebook are sometimes delivered (or “served”) directly to users by third party advertisers. They automatically receive your IP address when this happens. These third party advertisers may also download cookies to your computer, or use other technologies such as JavaScript and “web beacons” (also known as “1×1 gifs”) to measure the effectiveness of their ads and to personalize advertising content. Doing this allows the advertising network to recognize your computer each time they send you an advertisement in order to measure the effectiveness of their ads and to personalize advertising content. In this way, they may compile information about where individuals using your computer or browser saw their advertisements and determine which advertisements are clicked. Facebook does not have access to or control of the cookies that may be placed by the third party advertisers. Third party advertisers have no access to your contact information stored on Facebook unless you choose to share it with them.”

In short: Advertisers (that Facebook does not control yet are on their website because the Facebook staff lets them) can upload their cookies to your computer without your consent so that you’ll see the same annoying Telus or Emoticon ads wherever you go on the net. Thanks so much, Facebook! I can almost hear Fabio say, “I can’t believe how I’m being marketed to.”


In the opening paragraph of Facebook’s “Terms of use”, it states:

“It is your responsibility to regularly check the Site to determine if there have been changes to these Terms of Use and to review such changes.”

Riiiiight, I’m sure that EVERY Facebook member does that on a regular basis, ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING HOW LONG AND WORDY THE TERMS OF USE IS!

“We reserve the right, at our sole discretion, to change, modify, add, or delete portions of these Terms of Use at any time without further notice. If we do this, we will post the changes to these Terms of Use on this page and will indicate at the top of this page the date these terms were last revised. Your continued use of the Service or the Site after any such changes constitutes your acceptance of the new Terms of Use.”

So they’ll change, take out, or put in anything they want without telling you (“without further notice”, in other words)….YET, they’ll tell you WHEN they did this, leaving you, the responsible Facebook user, to read the Terms of use in its entirety and try to spot the changes, modifications, additions, or deleted portions…instead of simply posting what they changed/added/deleted/modified. Unless each and every Facebook user has PRINTED OUT A COPY OF THE TERMS OF USE EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU’VE MADE A CHANGE TO IT, HOW ARE THEY GOING TO KNOW WHAT EXACTLY HAS CHANGED? And the very last part (in bold)? Priceless. How long do you think it would take the average Facebook user to read every single word in the Terms of use section? I’ll be fair and say a half hour to get through all that legal jargon and mumbo jumbo. And don’t give me this ‘it’s all to protect our privacy’ argument. It does not take 9 pages to explain to us that they’re protecting our privacy. It takes 1 sentence. It takes 9 pages to to explain in legal terms why they’re allowed to share our information with third parties for certain reasons.

“In addition, you agree not to use the Service or the Site to:
–         use the Service or the Site in any unlawful manner or in any other manner that could damage, disable, overburden or impair the Site;
–         upload, post, transmit, share, store or otherwise make available any content that we deem to be harmful, threatening, unlawful, defamatory, infringing, abusive, inflammatory, harassing, vulgar, obscene, fraudulent, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable;”

Does that include voicing my opinions on Facebook’s privacy policy and terms of use?

“You understand and agree that the Company may, but is not obligated to, review the Site and may delete or remove (without notice) any Site Content or User Content in its sole discretion, for any reason or no reason…”

For example, if you were to point out things in their privacy policy and terms of use that they KNOW most people won’t read (and will simply scroll through it all and click on “I agree”), Facebook may ‘delete or remove’ it ‘for any reason or no reason’. But c’mon, you’d know the reason.

“When you post User Content to the Site, you authorize and direct us to make such copies thereof as we deem necessary in order to facilitate the posting and storage of the User Content on the Site.”

Posting and storage! Good cover for saying that they’re going to save your profile picture in their records until the NSA seizes the records, or Google buys out Facebook, or there’s some massive merging with some venture capital company that has more direct ties to the surveillance-state programs that are currently running in the underground.

“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.”

So I can post a picture of myself on Facebook, and that automatically means that you have the right to take that picture and give it to the New York Times for their “Goofballs of humanity” section without my expressed permission. Sounds great! How else can I let Facebook exploit me?

I read a story (which has since been deleted) that talks about a person wanting to “deactivate” their account but having to go through and delete every single thing in their account in order to have all their information removed from Facebook’s records. (Can you really trust that, or will they keep logs and records of your information permanently?) Why can’t it be that when a person wants to terminate their account, then everything in their account is AUTOMATICALLY removed? Isn’t that the purpose of wanting to close one’s Facebook account? And if people are so concerned with losing the User content that they’ve posted, then why not put up a warning screen that says something along the lines of, “All of your User content will be erased and unable to be recovered. Are you sure you want to do this?”. Saying such will give the user the chance to either copy their information to something else, or go ahead and delete it forever. There should be none of this keeping of our information on Facebook’s servers after we’ve deactivated our account. Currently, I find this to be unacceptable.

“We respect the intellectual property rights of others and we prohibit users from uploading, posting, or otherwise transmitting on the Facebook website or service any materials that violate another party’s intellectual property rights.”

YET YOU RESERVE THE RIGHT TO TAKE MY USER CONTENT (MY INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS) AND “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.” WHAT KIND OF DOUBLE STANDARD IS THAT? DO I HAVE TO COPYRIGHT OR OTHERWISE PATENT-PEND EVERYTHING I CHOOSE TO SHARE THAT IS MY OWN ON FACEBOOK?

“Users who install Platform Applications must agree to the terms and conditions set forth in the Platform Application Terms of Use (“Application User Terms”) and in these Terms of Use. The Application User Terms are subject to change without prior notice at any time, in the Company’s sole discretion, so you should review these terms each time you install an application and from time to time.”

I’m sure that people who willingly install these applications to their computers are very concerned with the Application User Terms and they read them very thoroughly. This is how the “Company” is covering themselves in a legal manner: they’re informing you, the user, of this information (which I’m guessing over 50% of you haven’t read), and if, for some reason legal action is undertaken, Facebook can purge themselves of any responsibility whatsoever because they outlined your role in reviewing every single term of use and online document (again, I’m guessing over 50% of you simply scrolled through and clicked on “I agree” at the bottom of) and concluded that you, the user, were not taking the responsibility of reading and understanding said terms and online documents, even though Platform Developers might not abide by those terms and agreements.

What they SHOULD be doing in this case (and every case like it), is informing the user of any and all changes made to any and all terms and agreements through email or some sort of messaging service. For example, if Facebook makes a change in their privacy policy, I believe it is their responsibility to email me and inform me of the exact change made and create a link to the page with the change on it. If you can personalize “advertisements and promotions” for people in a network who like a band or movie (i.e. making it more convenient for the people in that network to access products related to that band or movie, etc), then why can’t you make it convenient for Facebook users to review the changes to the privacy policy, terms of use, code of conduct, etc. without having to read the documents over again? How many people are going to recognize these subtle changes in documents that can range anywhere from 3 to 25 pages? You have to make these changes clearer, Facebook staff.

“However, while we have undertaken contractual and technical steps to restrict possible misuse of such information by such Platform Developers, we do not screen or approve Developers, and we cannot and do not guarantee that all Platform Developers will abide by such restrictions and agreements.”

Again, why do you associate with these Platform Developers if you’re not 100% sure if they’re going to abide by the restrictions and agreements that you have outlined?

“You are solely responsible for your interactions with other Facebook users. We reserve the right, but have no obligation, to monitor disputes between you and other users.”

That’s cool. However, the word “dispute” is not defined; the word “dispute” to some of us could mean an argument or disagreement (so long as it is not “obscene, pornographic, or sexually explicit; depicts graphic or gratuitous violence; makes threats of any kind that intimidates, harasses, or bullies anyone; is derogatory, demeaning, malicious, defamatory, abusive, offensive, or hateful”); to the staff of Facebook, “dispute” could mean “any and all communcations between one user and another”. But hey, they have no OBLIGATION to do it! They may do it casually while on their lunch break, or when they have nothing more important to do…

“The Company reserves the right to change any and all content, software and other items used or contained in the Site and any Services and Platform Applications offered through the Site at any time without notice.”

Why do you reserve the right to do a whole bunch of these things ‘without notice’? What is the problem of announcing it to us? It may be…I don’t know…IMPORTANT FOR US TO KNOW!!!

The Company may terminate your membership, delete your profile and any content or information that you have posted on the Site or through any Platform Application and/or prohibit you from using or accessing the Service or the Site or any Platform Application (or any portion, aspect or feature of the Service or the Site or any Platform Application) for any reason, or no reason, at any time in its sole discretion, with or without notice, including without limitation if it believes that you are under 13, or under 18 and not in high school or college.”

This seems suspect. It would be most reasonable for Facebook to inform me when and why they are terminating my membership or deleting my profile and any content or information that I have posted on it. In fact, I think it would be most responsible of them as a company to do so. After all, if they can protect my privacy and inform me of taking caution and using risk when using software from Platform Developers, why can’t they tell me the reason for removing some/all of my user content (or ‘information’) that I post?

“By visiting or using the Site and/or the Service, you agree that the laws of the State of Delaware, without regard to principles of conflict of laws, will govern these Terms of Use and any dispute of any sort that might arise between you and the Company or any of our affiliates. With respect to any disputes or claims not subject to arbitration (as set forth below), you agree not to commence or prosecute any action in connection therewith other than in the state and federal courts of California, and you hereby consent to, and waive all defenses of lack of personal jurisdiction and forum non conveniens with respect to, venue and jurisdiction in the state and federal courts of California.”

So tell me, how many of you know the laws of the state of Delaware? How many of you CANADIAN Facebook users are familiar with the federal laws of California? Do you know how much more reading this involves? Do you know how much reading you must undertake in order to simply enter a website that helps friends interact?

“You acknowledge and agree that any questions, comments, suggestions, ideas, feedback or other information about the Site or the Service (“Submissions”), provided by you to Company are non-confidential and shall become the sole property of Company. Company shall own exclusive rights, including all intellectual property rights, and shall be entitled to the unrestricted use and dissemination of these Submissions for any purpose, commercial or otherwise, without acknowledgment or compensation to you.”

Remember a line from the Miranda rights: Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. This applies here as well.


We want Facebook to be a place where people respect the rights and feelings of others, including third party intellectual property rights.”

How about respecting MY RIGHTS to keeping MY USER CONTENT on this site and NOT for the distribution “for any purpose on or in connection with the site or the promotion thereof”?

“Facebook allows you to upload and share user generated Content with your friends, such as photographs and videos you upload from your camera, webcam or mobile phone.”

So if your friend is accused of being a terrorist and they have a picture of the two of you together on their page, guess what? You’re accused of being a terrorist too! It’s called “accomplice” even though the picture may have been taken YEARS before the accusation.

“While we believe users should be able to express themselves and their point of view, certain kinds of speech simply do not belong in a community like Facebook. Therefore, you may not post or share Content that:
–         is obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit
–         depicts graphic or gratuitous violence
–         makes threats of any kind or that intimidates, harasses, or bullies anyone
–         is derogatory, demeaning, malicious, defamatory, abusive, offensive or hateful”

And who or what determines exactly what these terms mean? Can Facebook cite the legal definitions for each word? Remember that as human beings we all can interpret single words differently or have different meanings for the same words. Example: a Facebook staff member may observe a “dispute” between myself and another Facebook user, and may not recognize the sarcasm/criticism/humour that myself and the other Facebook member are using in our comments to one another (unless we specifically point these out). Therefore, legal definitions and many examples must be provided so that there is no deviation from the rules outlined in the “Inappropriate content” section of Facebook’s Content code of conduct.

“Although as an online service provider, we are not responsible for the conduct of our users, we want Facebook to be a safe place on the internet. Therefore, in using Facebook, you may not:
–         violate any local, state, national or international law or post any Content that would encourage or provide instructions for a criminal offense”

Do you have any idea what this MEANS? Not only do you have to have a good knowledge of the rules of your country, but that of the United States as well (this includes all 50 states and both PATRIOT acts). In the state of Georgia, there is a law that states:

“(a) A person commits the offense of sodomy when he or she performs or submits to any sexual act involving the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another. A person commits the offense of aggravated sodomy when he or she commits sodomy with force and against the will of the other person. The fact that the person allegedly sodomized is the spouse of a defendant shall not be a defense to a charge of aggravated sodomy.”

So if you’re logged into Facebook, and while you are logged in, your partner performs oral sex on you, or if you engage in sodomy with that partner (or vice versa), you are committing a crime in the state of Georgia, EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT IN THE STATE OF GEORGIA! Then again, if you can perform sodomy on your partner and type on your keyboard while logged into Facebook, one must wonder if your intention is to break the law in the state of Georgia or simply save time by combining tasks.

Also, the “post any Content that would encourage or provide instructions for a criminal offense” is a no-brainer. It’s saying ‘don’t post instructions on how to make bombs or be a terrorist or subvert the constitution of the United States’. But remember; no oral sex and no sodomy comes first. 😉

My aim here is not to ruin the good time that people are having at Facebook: rather, it is a public way of letting the staff at Facebook know that their site could be improved if it weren’t mimicking the Big Brother 1984 police state control grid that our modern world is becoming. Get rid of the advertisements, make your Platform developers more responsible, and DO NOT SHARE OUR INFORMATION WITH ANY THIRD PARTIES WHATSOEVER! If WE want to share our information, that’s OUR business, NOT YOURS. YOU DO NOT TELL US WHAT IS RIGHT FOR US. WE will determine that for ourselves, as long as we follow YOUR rules (so long as those rules are not Orwellian). Finally, when we delete our accounts, we want ALL our personal information erased from ALL Facebook servers PERMANENTLY!

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