By Susan Duclos


We have heard quite a bit about Facebook changing their terms of service on January 1, 2015, claims, articles debunking those claims, and others taking an objective look at the 5 basic changes as well as those carefully detailing what those changes really mean for users.

The bottom line is the January 1, 2015 changes are not the “bombshell,” but the lawsuit that is going forward from their prior actions is the true bombshell.

With that said and before attempting to untangle the misinformation that has been shoved down our throats, lets point out that the majority of Facebook users are asked to agree to the terms of service before starting their account. Do they even click over to those terms before checking the “I agree” or continuing the set up process after reading that by continuing you are automatically agreeing? If so, they understand those terms, if not, they get what they deserve.

Ok…. now, the real “bombshell,” via RT on December 26, 2014:

Facebook must face a class action lawsuit filed in California claiming the social networking site sifted through users’ private messages for targeted advertising purposes, violating both federal and state law.

At the bottom of the RT article we see that Facebook is not alone:

In addition to Facebook, Yahoo! and Earthlink have faced similar lawsuits. Google’s Gmail is currently appealing accusations that it violated the Wiretap Act as it scanned Gmail messages for targeted-ad purposes.

Now, on to the new “Terms and Policies Update,” via Facebook, we see what they claim those updates entail. Follow that up with an objective article detailing the 5 changes, one of which is nothing more than merging the “Special Provisions Applicable to Social Plugins and Special Provisions Applicable to Developers/Operators of Applications and Websites” policies into one section and moving it to an external link….. cleaning up some clutter in other words.

The other four changes include a tweak to the payments policy, a change to display of promotion guidelines, a change in presentation of developer guidelines and the process for making future TOS changes has itself been amended.

Read more at BostInno.

Now, on to the claims that Facebook is now going to allow federal organizations to obtain users’ information? Snopes addresses that whole issue, but the short  answer is that federal agencies have been able to obtain that information pursuant to a search warrant….. nothing new. 

Quite simply, while Facebook’s “Privacy Basics” update slated for January 1 2015 is a bit heavy with jargon and difficult to parse, no part of the announcement could reasonably be interpreted to convey an intent to disclose user data to the CIA, FBI, or NSA. Even indirectly, no portion of the quoted text hinted at cooperation with law enforcement or the use of geolocation or device data in the course of criminal (or other) investigations. And even if Facebook intended to do such a thing (which is not supported by any evidence, anecdotal or actual), turning over data obtained in that manner to law enforcement would necessitate the prior issuance of a search warrant.

The bottom line is every year Internet organizations update their terms of service and it is the users choice and responsibility to read those updated terms and either agree or stop using that service…. it really is that simple.

Below you will see some helpful tips on how to navigate your promotional posts on Facebook if you are a business.