Orwell Deleted His Facebook Page

Kelcie Pegher

When logging into Facebook, the illusion of privacy is given with the password-protected page that a no one should be able to unlock. However, once logged into Facebook, all privacy is lost.

A recent report in theconsumerist.org called Facebook’s new terms of service: the ‘We Can Do Anything We Want With Your Content. Forever’” provision. The changes caused uproar within the Facebook community. The Terms of Service that Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, attempted to change stated that “You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute.”

It also allowed Facebook to keep deleted information in its archives. The only way to protest this was, of course, a mass organization of Facebook groups. There were three major ones, totaling with over 158,000 members. The largest group containing 147,000 members, even today after the controversy, has subsided. Administrator and creator of the largest group, Anne Katherine Petterø, wrote in an e-mail, “The new ToS didn’t affect me personally much. I always think twice before I upload anything onto Facebook. That still doesn’t mean I agreed with the new ToS, which was the reason why I started the group. For me it was more about making people aware of what they sign up for.” Facebook owns all the writing, photos, and any other content uploaded on the personal pages. Even prospective employers and the government could have a window into the dark realms of our personal past. Assuaging the users’ outrage, Zuckerberg went back to the old terms of service, realizing the line of privacy had been crossed.

This is a valuable lesson, even a telling snapshot, of what could happen when a Big Brother type oversteps e-boundaries. Internet users have lost all sense of privacy — sharing photos publicly, writing online journals open to millions of viewers, and using whitepages.com to reverse search or search any phone number. Yet according to a poll taken in 2006 by MSNBC, 60% of Americans feel as though they are losing their privacy, and only 7% change any of their information in order to protect their privacy. Privacy, a term that was once cherished as a Constitutionally protected right, is no longer a concern, at least with the majority of social networkers. The future of e-privacy is a legally and socially interesting. But however the new carnation of privacy emerges, a new conceptualization of privacy needs to replace the old: more guarded dignity and less blind sharing.