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Facebook is Forever

Facebook is Forever

Your teachers and parents have been warning you to be careful what you put on the Internet. "Once it's out there, it's out there," they say. And you are all, "Whatever, old people." Well this time they may be right. A couple of weeks ago Facebook changed their terms of use to basically say, "even if you delete your account in the future, we retain the rights to anything -- information, pictures, comments -- that was in part of your account." Facebook users freaked. So much so, that chief executive Mark Zuckerburg reverted to an older version of the terms. Crisis averted.

Not so fast.

Even though they may not own your identity (for now) they do own a copy of it. Or at least a copy of whatever identity you've created on Facebook. It seems once it's out there, it's out there. "By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose..."

This is legal-speak for "your out-of-context photo comments, fully-lifted wall-to-walls, and simpering post-breakup notes, thanking your friends for their support are all fair game." Let's just imagine what this could lead to:

5 years from now...
The strange phenomenon: You are about to graduate from college and mysteriously receive an onslaught of British Prep School catalogues.
The source: Remember how back in middle school you and your friends dressed up as the cast of Harry Potter for Halloween? And then you tagged yourself in the photo and added the comment (obviously in jest), "My ultimate dream! Wearing a uniform to class and talking with a sweet accent. Chicks galore, man."

7 years from now...
The strange phenomenon: You and your soon-to-be spouse (yup, you're getting married, congrats!) go to register for wedding gifts. But the electronic system keeps "recommending" odd items that are freaking out your betrothed. Why does think that you have any interest in the complete Hills box set?
The source: Whether you'd like to admit it or not, there was a time in your life when a marathon of Heidi and Lauren was the best way to waste an afternoon. A weekend. A spring break. And then you decided that the best way to repent for your sins was to write a note of apology to yourself on Facebook, promising never ever to watch that show again. But you did. A week later.

10 years from now...
The strange phenomenon: The boss keeps giving you these weird, almost twittering glances. It's like she knows something you don't. Your coworkers are soon referring to you by strange names like "Rusty Pine" and "Squishy Oyster."
The source: Years ago, amid the frenzy of 25 Things, What kind of beer are you?, and What's your name?, you filled out a questionnaire indicating, among other things, your porn name, your Native American name, your gangsta name, and your punk band name. These names are still out there, committing crimes against your person.

Many, many years from now...
The strange phenomenon: You suddenly become the victim of a rampant wave of ditching on the part of the neighborhood kids. Then they begin leaving stuff on your stoop. Weird stuff. A wrench. A remote control. A pink polka-dot umbrella.
The source: When you moved out of your parents house to go to college, you found a bunch of random crap under your bed. As a tribute, you included them as recipients of your "Farewell High School Bitches!" note--a note that you posted to your Facebook profile as proof of your independent kiss off. Guess what? Thanks to "the Internet is forever," they're back. Forever.

What do you think? Is this the beginning of a scary new future?

Topics: Digital, The Internets
Tags: facebook

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