NOTE: Due to a server crash in mid 2008, the screenshots associated with this post are no longer available, however the text still does a good job of covering the Terms of Service. I will be writing an updated post in the near future. Sorry for the inconvenience. -ac
You can view the TOS from any page in Facebook by clicking on the “Terms” link in the bank of site links at the bottom:
So when you click on the link you are taken to the Terms page and as of this writing, the last revision was made on November 15, 2007 (after the launch of Pages and the Social Ads/Beacon fiasco). Then begins the legal mumbo-jumbo…paragraph-by-paragraph, this is what we are looking at:
Like I said, it was updated back in mid-November and this intro just describes what Facebook is (they call themselves a social ‘utility’) and how you will know when the TOS changes. You agree to abide by these terms any time you login to Facebook, use the mobile version of the site, or use the “Share” link either from your browser toolbar or a link in any post online. Also, Facebook can change the TOS at any time and it is your responsibility to check back periodically to see if any changes have been made. If you keep using Facebook after those changes take effect, you silently agree to them. If you don’t agree, don’t use the site.
This just means that the TOS is important so you better pay attention (notice the boldface and all caps typing…very attention-grabbing).
To use Facebook, you have to be at least 13. Also, if you are between the ages of 13 and 18, you need to be enrolled in high school or college, if you are in that age range but are not enrolled in school, you are not an authorized Facebook user. (That is what we call “bad”) And again, by using the site, you are affirming that you meet the age requirements and that you agree to the TOS.
When you use Facebook, you agree to provide true and accurate information about yourself on all registration forms and to promptly update that info if it ever changes. Also, you are responsible for keeping your login information secure and because of that, you are responsible for anything that is done on the site using your account, even if your friend happens to be be using your computer/account when making bomb threats or stalking 13 year olds. So the moral of the story is: keep that stuff secret.
Everything you see on Facebook, from layout to text to graphics is the property of Facebook. You cannot use or reproduce any of it in any form without the written consent of Facebook. (Which I guess means that the screenshots I’m using are not kosher…) The only part of the site that this does not apply to is the content that you upload or provide to the site, you are free to do whatever you want with that. You can download stuff from the site if it is for personal use without intention to reproduce or publish as long as you keep all the copyright information intact. So essentially, you can copy anything you want from Facebook as long as it never ever leaves your computer and as long as no one but you ever sees it. However, you can’t use any robots or automated data extraction methods to do so. If you use Facebook in any way other than what is described in the TOS, you are going to get kicked off. And if that unauthorized use violates any laws or copyright ownership…well, you had better get a lawyer.
Facebook owns the trademarks for pretty much everything you can think of that might be related to Facebook from names to designs to scripts, so don’t use them to make money. And if you use any name that is kind of like Facebook or you make a site that might be easily confused as Facebook, you had better lawyer up. The next section is pretty important and quite long, so I’m going to break it up just a bit:
The intro to this section says that everything on Facebook (except the advertising options available) are for personal, non-commercial use so you cannot run a business of facebook…but I’m sure they aren’t going to get too upset if you are making side cash with their Marketplace. Also, it says that you are agreeing not to upload or share anything on Facebook that will infringe on the copyrights of any other entity or that will be considered libelous. Other things you are not allowed to do:
1 ) Use other people’s contact info to send them spam.
2 ) Do anything in Facebook (or to Facebook) that might overburden or disable the site.
3 ) Use any sort of automated program to use any service on the site or collect user information. (This is what got Scoble in trouble)
4 ) Upload or share any content that Facebook might deem to be harmful, abusive, harassing, obscene, invasive of privacy, ethnically/racially disparaging, or otherwise objectionable.
5 ) Put any videos on Facebook other than ones that have you or your friends in them, or videos that you created.
6 ) Register for multiple Facebook accounts, impersonate anyone else via a fake Facebook account, or lie about your age, etc.
7 ) Spam anyone else on Facebook
8 ) Publicly share the contact or personal information of anyone else on Facebook.
9 ) Ask any minors for personal information or ask anyone else for their password or other personal information in order to make money from them or to break the law.
10 ) Upload or Share any viruses or code to Facebook that will screw anything up on the site or for other people.
11 ) Intimidate or harass other people
12 ) Put anything of Facebook that would break the law or encourage or provide instructions for anyone else to break the law. You also cannot violate anyone else’s rights or create any kind of liability for anyone else.
13 ) Use or try to use any one else’s Facebook account unless Facebook tells you you can.
14 ) Put anything on Facebook that Facebook doesn’t like or that makes it so other users cannot enjoy the site…or anything that means Facebook might get in trouble.
Anything you put on Facebook or do on the site is your responsibility and you are not allowed to put anything on the site that you do not own the rights to or at least have permission to put up. Facebook has the right to patrol the site and delete whatever it wants, whenever it pleases for any reason whatsoever with no exceptions. If you want backup copies of anything you have on Facebook, that is your responsibility.
Facebook can make copies of whatever you put on the site and in fact anytime you put anything on the site, you are giving Facebook authorization to reproduce, display, translate, and distribute it in any manner it wants for whatever reason it pleases. The good news is, that you are authorized to remove your content from the site whenever you want and when you do so, you revoke Facebook’s right to do anything with your content. However, they will keep an archived version of it…they just cannot do anything with it. And even though they have the right to do pretty much whatever they want with your content, they do not own it: you retain full ownership and all intellectual property and proprietary rights.
Facebook does not charge for any of its mobile services, however your carrier’s normal data and messaging rates will apply when you use Facebook Mobile. You should check with your carrier about rates and also about any kinds of restrictions they might have on what kind of content you can download/access. By using Facebook Mobile, you are agreeing that they can contact you about Facebook by whatever mobile means necessary, and also that they may monitor some information about your mobile usage.
Again, you cannot put anything on Facebook that violates another entity’s copyright and if you do and Facebook finds out about it, they will remove or block that content. If you do this repeatedly, they will disable your account. If you think your copyright has been infringed on the site, let Facebook know and they will go Ctl+Alt+Del those punks.
Because of the DMCA, Facebook will give you the boot if you repeatedly violate other people’s copyright. Or if you just do it once. Basically, it is whatever Facebook feels like doing, so if you like using the site, I would suggest not violating copyright.
During your use of Facebook, you might get sent or you might come across links to other sites that are not owned or sanctioned by Facebook. You are going to these sites at your own risk and Facebook is not responsible for the content of those sites or any consequences that might arise from your accessing those sites. This also applies to applications: they are independently developed so Facebook is not responsible for their content or actions, you install them at your own risk.
When you use the Share feature of Facebook, via the browser toolbar, you agree that the content you are sharing meets the terms and conditions in this TOS and you also recognize that Facebook is not responsible at all for the content of the site or link being shared.
Other sites can put links on their pages that allow Facebook users to share content (similar to the one that you see included at the bottom of my posts) and when they do that, they are agreeing to this TOS.
When they put that Share link on their page, that site agrees to use Facebook-sanctioned designs, or if they want to make it a text link, it has to say “Facebook” somewhere. If Facebook wants to, it can revoke a site’s right to include a Share link on their site.
When an external site has a Share link, the content that would be shared by it cannot violate the Facebook TOS in any way and that includes content that Facebook might deem vulgar, harassing, obscene, etc. Also by hosting a Share link, the external site agrees to protect Facebook from any legal action or costs arising from any user’s use of that Share link.
By placing a Share link on a site, that site is granting Facebook the right to reproduce and share anything on that specific site.
When you buy or sell anything on the Facebook Marketplace, you do so at your own risk and Facebook is not responsible for anything that happens or doesn’t happen as a result of the sale. Each party is responsible for all interactions, payment, and exchange of goods/services. The only time Facebook is involved is if you are buying something from Facebook (gifts, advertisements, etc).
Facebook has an API platform that allows developers to create applications for users and those developers are subject to a whole other set of Terms and Guidelines that I won’t go over here. Facebook can change the guidelines for developers at anytime, but it is not responsible for their products or applications: you use any application at your own risk.
When you install an application, you are also agreeing to another TOS and each application might require you to agree to a TOS for that specific application. Individual application TOS have not been reviewed or approved by Facebook, so again everything you do related to applications is at your own risk.
Facebook Pages are only intended for commercial, political, and charitable purposes and you may not set up a Facebook Page on behalf of anyone or posing as anyone else unless you are authorized to do so. This includes fan clubs or pages intended to support or criticize a person or entity; that is why there are Facebook groups. Facebook does not pre-screen Pages and does not guarantee that any Page was actually created by the person or company it represents. Because of this, Facebook is not responsible for anything on these Pages or for the consequences of any of your actions on them, including financial transactions or the fate of your personal data if you provide it to the Page. Also, Pages have their own TOS.
Anytime you buy anything from Facebook (ads, gifts, etc) you are agreeing to the Terms of Sale which Facebook can change whenever they want so always check them out before you buy anything.
You are a big boy/girl, so play nice with the other users on the site. Facebook has the right to monitor disputes between people, but they do not have to do that.
This section is mostly review of the previous sections: Facebook is not responsible or liable for any content provided via the Share feature or by any application. They provide guidelines for user conduct, but they are not responsible for what other people put up on the site including offensive or obscene material. Also, Facebook is not responsible for user conduct either online or offline.
Sometimes, Facebook might be down for maintenance and if that is the case, Facebook is not responsible for any problems that might arise from its downtime. Facebook is also not responsible or liable if some sort of electronic device you have is damaged as a result of accessing the site for any reason. Also, the site is not responsible for any damages, including injury or death, that might result from anyone’s use of the site or any features of applications that might be affiliated with Facebook or from any interaction between users either online or offline.
When you use Facebook or any service it provides, you are using them “as-is” with no warranty or any other kind of guarantee. Facebook does not guarantee the validity or accuracy of any information provided on the site by other users or by applications or other 3rd parties. Also, Facebook is not liable at all if you download anything that infects your computer with a virus or causes any other kind of damages.
Facebook can change whatever it wants whenever it wants on the site without telling anyone beforehand. Also, if any company or copyright is mentioned anywhere within Facebook, that is not an endorsement, sponsorship, or any other kind of affiliation with that company.
Facebook adn its employees are not responsible or liable to you for any kind of damages to anything that might come about as a result of your use of Facebook or any applications. If for some reason there is some kind of damage to you that the company is liable for, the only restitution you are entitled to is any sort of membership or service fees you have paid, not to exceed $1000. (USD) If you have not paid any fees, you are entitled injunctive relief only and you are not entitled to any sort of financial settlement from Facebook regardless of the cause of the damages.
Facebook can delete everything you have ever done or put on Facebook and/or kick you off the site or any platform application at any time for any reason with no warning and with no course for appeal. When a user has died, Facebook will leave that person’s account active for a period of time to allow for memorialization and remembrance; they don’t have to do this though, it is at their discretion.
When you use Facebook you agree that you will abide by the laws of the state of Deleware and that should any dispute arise from use of the site, it is those laws that will be govern the resolution. However, if for some reason you have a dispute with Facebook (the company itself) you agree to prosecute them only in the state and federal courts of California even if it is inconvenient for you.
Unless otherwise stated, you agree that any disputes arising from your use of the site will be handled via binding arbitration unless one party infringes on the other’s copyright or trade secrets or the dispute is the result of a third party agreement in the Facebook Marketplace.
All arbitration will be handled by the American Arbitration Association and will be dealt with as per its rules and procedures. The decision reached in this arbitration will be binding and final.
There is a 3 year statute of limitations on any complaint to be filed against Facebook…so if you have damages but wait more than 3 years to file a complaint, you are out of luck.
Again, Facebook and its employees and subsidiaries are not responsible or liable for any compensatory payments or suits that arise from damages or complaints that you may have that fall into the purview of this TOS. notice this is like the 3,214th time this is included…so you pretty much know that no matter what happens on Facebook, you are not getting any money from anyone.
Anything you provide to Facebook via your use of the site or through feedback or suggestions is non-confidential and is the property of Facebook and it retains all intellectual property and proprietary rights to anything that comes about as a result of your ideas, without having to compensate you for them.
Anything in this TOS that says “for example”, “including” or any other phrase like that means that it is without limitation and extends to just about anything Facebook wants it to.
This TOS and any other TOS included on Facebook (such as those for the Marketplace and Platform Applications) make up an entire agreement between you and Facebook regarding your use of the site and services. If the TOS says Facebook can do something and they do not do it, that does not mean they are waiving any rights it just means they are exercising an option available to the company. If any part of this TOS is deemed unlawful of void, the rest of the TOS will remain in full effect.