So Facebook changed their terms of service so they can keep and distribute your data forever, even if you delete your account. It seems that they will factor in your privacy preferences, but I’m not a lawyer and I’m not sure how ironclad that provision is. What seems to be clear is that they keep your data if you delete your account.
I see, so Facebook is trying to protect my friends from me. That’s nice. So, if me and all of my friends leave Facebook, then surely Facebook should delete my data, right, since no one left on Facebook has access to it. Right?
Zuckerberg is correct that deleting my data sucks if my friends are using Facebook as their addressbook, and my contact information is deleted because I left Facebook. But that’s my choice, not Facebook’s. Warn me about the consequences, then let me do my thing.
Now, if Facebook is really trying to solve this problem of shared-data ownership, which I agree is interesting, there’s a far superior approach. Add to the TOS that any Facebook user with whom I share content gets a license to that content. So, my contact information gets copied into their addressbook, and if I leave they still have a license to that data and they can keep it in their own Facebook account if they want. Heck, technically my friends need the license anyways if they want to download and print the photos I share with them. Then, if I’ve shared some content with only one or two friends, and we all leave Facebook, then no one on Facebook has a copy of that content or a license to it, and it naturally goes away for good.
It’s possible Facebook really wants to solve this problem well, in which case I hope they pursue a direction of friend-to-friend content licensing. It’s possible this “think of your friends!” response is genuine and not just a convenient excuse for a user-data landgrab.
But let’s remember that Facebook still doesn’t let you easily share your email address with applications, or easily export your data to another service, no matter how badly you want it. They’re interested in user control only insofar as it doesn’t damage their data lock-in. Until Facebook provides better data portability, it’s difficult to see how this change in the TOS is really for the users’ sake.