UPDATED 18:42 EST / FEBRUARY 26 2009

Facebook Decides To Be A Commune

For those that have been living under a rock since the end of January, Facebook decided to replace it’s TOS quietly back on February 16th. It was well covered as the people began screaming almost immediately. The reactionary response was also well covered. The retreat back to the old came only after there was a poll conducted where 56% of the users wanted the old TOS back.

Groovy Man, Peace Out

It’s 1969 and the summer of love is hitting the campus of Facebook. I just happened to be out while the live call was happening today between Mark Zuckerberg and the hand picked people he would be broadcasting his message of peace, love and understanding.

I did the next best thing and followed along via my twitter stream. I saw this tweet about letting the power go to the people by vote. While my initial reaction to the statement probably wasn’t the best, it does bring up the differences in Facebook as a business and say the local mechanic shop.

The new document that this call was about can be found here. It is no longer called a "Terms of Service", but a more friendly "Statement of Rights and Responsibilities". This is the first time that I have heard of a major company as big as Facebook letting the people decide how they should run business. Essentially as he stated "Zuckerberg says the company will put controversial sections up for a vote; it will also have a council to provide feedback."

That tells everyone that they are going to create some sort of fantasy island where there will be a tribal council vote. To bring this even more clearly into focus, check out some of the comments from the live blogging of the conference call.

The first question of the call noted at 11:21am resulted in a "Unclear. But vote early and often." statement by the person asking. At 11:27am, the live blogger was literally being bored to tears – "More legal stuff. Zzzzzz.", and ending it with a statement of "He might start by not sneaking up on us all the time.", which was a remark in response to "More transparency, said Zuckerberg. “This is all about us trusting our users.”" According to this live transcript, the call ends a few minutes later at 11:33am.

After reading that live blog of the conference call, it seems like a wasted half hour call! In fact it appears that there still really isn’t a clear cut plan on how this voting will happen and who will be on the tribal council. The only thing that I have gathered is that Facebook is really proud of themselves for taking 44 pages and turning into a 5.5 page peace, love, and understanding document.

It appears at least via this source, Facebook realized they needed a person to handle public relations management for this event. Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s VP Communications and Public Policy, kept the call on track. Even when people tried to bait Facebook into answering phishing and malware questions, it was headed off at the pass well.

"Q: Can you comment on steps Facebook is taking to determine phishing, malware?
Schrage: That’s not really the purpose of the call today, feel free to contact us about that later

While to many this will seem like a very community oriented thing to do. Power to the people, and make sure you wear a flower in your hair while visiting the Facebook campus, to other people it just goes to show you how much Facebook still really needs to grow up. You don’t let the people dictate to you, you dictate your Terms to them. That is why it’s called a Terms of Service. As harsh as that sounds, it’s the truth. The Facebook TOS, whether it’s a 44 page document or 5.5 groovy and easily read pages – it still is the legal face of the company. Democracy is cool when it’s appropriately applied to such things as – politics.

In this case, it’s some sort of 175 million user fantasy – to run the company into the ground with a tribal council vote on how they want things to be done. How great it is to know that Facebook really doesn’t own your data, how sad it is to see that a 24 year old kid doesn’t have the balls to say – You play by my rules or you get out of my house!

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