Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Liveblogging the Facebook Our-ToS-Is-Your-ToS Press Conference


BoomTown is impatiently cooling heels, waiting for a press conference to begin about “new steps Facebook is taking to improve user understanding and ownership of the Facebook terms of service and, more generally, the policies of the Facebook service.”

The Yahoo (YHOO) reorg finally announced this morning is positively thrilling in comparison!

But we’re liveblogging it anyway!

Here’s what I got in the morning mail:

Hi Kara–

You are invited to participate in a press conference call with Mark Zuckerberg today at 11am PT where he will announce the new steps Facebook is taking to improve user understanding and ownership of the Facebook terms of service and, more generally, the policies of the Facebook service.

For more and future updates we encourage you to join the Facebook Group called the Official Group for Media & Analysts Following Facebook.

Also this:

Subject: Facebook Opens Governance of Service and Policy Process to Users

Today we’re announcing new opportunities for users to play a meaningful role in determining the policies governing our site. We released the first proposals subject to these procedures–The Facebook Principles, a set of values that will guide the development of the service, and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities that governs Facebook’s operations. Users will have the opportunity to review, comment and vote on these documents over the coming weeks and, if they are approved, other future policy changes. We’ve posted the documents in separate groups and have invited users to offer comments and suggestions. You can find these groups here:

Facebook Principles

Statement of Rights and Responsibilities

For more information and the full press release, please check out the recent news section of this group.

As always, you can feel free to email us with any questions at press@facebook.com

The Facebook Team

11:11 am:

Facebook PR honcho Elliot Schrage opens up the conference, but I am honestly only hear: “Blah, blah, blah.”

Then, Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg comes on.

“Openness and transparency is not just an end state,” he said. “It’s also a process.”


Say what, Willis?

Soon Zuckerberg is explaining how he wants to craft Facebook’s rules of the road going forward. It’s like being at the Constitutional Convention, except for geeks.

Alert! Comment! Notify! Transparency! Oversharing!

11:17 am:

“We want to be as clear as possible that we do not own user data,” said Zuckerberg. “We feel really bad about that.”

Us too!

11:21 am:

I get to ask the first question, which is about how this whole mess happened.

Zuckerberg said Facebook had made previous changes all the time to its Terms of Service to complex legal documents. This time, in trying to make them simpler, “we made a few mistakes,” which in turn set off a firestorm.

Ah, the mistakes-were-made defense!

“A lot of the feedback was fair,” acknowledged Zuckerberg, who then talked about the new notification and feedback and comments options, so it will not happen ever again. Except next month.

Also, there will be a vote. Well, only on some issues that get people all hot and bothered, presumably. But who decides what gets voted on and who wins the vote?

Unclear. But vote early and often.

But, said Schrage: “We underestimated the sense of ownership” that Facebook users have for the service.

11:25 am:

A question about whether or not Facebook should have known better after its Beacon advertising debacle.

Not the same thing, said Zuckerberg. But point taken!

11:27 am:

More legal stuff. Zzzzzz.

Then a question on phishing scams. Off topic! Schrage cuts it off tout de suite. Sorry, fella, but this is about one screw-up at a time.

Another shouldn’t-you-have-known-better related question, referring back to the News Feed debacle of 2007. That was before the Beacon debacle of 2008. Which was before the ToS debacle of 2009. (Is anyone noticing a pattern here?)


In other words, Facebook should have known better.

Radical transparency, said Zuckerberg: “This is all about us trusting our users.”

He might start that ball rolling by not sneaking up on us all the time.

11:33 am:

More about rules of the road. More about the transparent community.

Zuckerberg is now fully channelling Casper the Friendly Ghost.

Call ends.


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