If Sarah Palin Has Someone Else Doing Her Facebooking, Is She A Criminal?

from the according-to-facebook dept

The EFF has been working to make people aware of the ridiculous consequences of the really ridiculous stretching of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to make such things as violating the terms of service on a website a criminal offense. As part of this, they're now pointing out that rumors that Sarah Palin doesn't write her own Facebook messages and Tweets could mean that Palin is violating the law and criminally liable, since it goes against Facebook's terms of service:
The problem is that Facebook's terms of use prohibit several things that Palin and her ghostwriter may have done. Specifically, it forbids users from:
  • accessing someone else's account
  • sharing their passwords to let someone else access their accounts
  • transferring their accounts to someone else (without Facebook's written permission)
  • providing false personal information
  • "facilitating" or "encouraging" someone else to violate the terms of use

If Palin and her ghostwriter are in fact violating Facebook's terms of use, that probably doesn't seem like a big deal to most people. Just by surfing around the internet, we "agree" to dozens of website terms of use every day, usually before we even read them. These terms can say anything a website operator wants, and often specifically note that they can be changed at any time without notice (or with minimal notice).

But violating a website's terms of use is a big deal, according to Facebook. In fact, Facebook says it's a federal crime.

The point, of course, is not to accuse Sarah Palin of criminal behavior, but to point out the ridiculousness of saying that terms of service violations are a criminal offense, as many have been doing (including Facebook) in various lawsuits.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    Zacqary Adam Green (profile), Sep 10th, 2010 @ 12:10pm

    Oh, come on. Getting Sarah Palin convicted of a crime is worth some chilling effects to our online freedom, right? =D

     

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    that_id (profile), Sep 10th, 2010 @ 12:11pm

    So, an amputee that can't type is unable to have a facebook page because someone else would have to input the information for them?
    Where do a website's 'Terms of use polices' being enforced by the federal goverment collide with the government's enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act?

     

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    Mmm, Sep 10th, 2010 @ 12:17pm

    In all fairness, Barack Obama doesn't write his Tweets either.

     

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      A Dan (profile), Sep 10th, 2010 @ 12:39pm

      Re:

      The article does mention both Sarah Palin and Barack Obama. Mike just didn't quote/headline that part.

      "Let's assume that Palin created her own Facebook account, and then hired Mansour to manage it. So what, right? Lots of high-profile people probably don't update their own Facebook pages. In fact, President Obama's Facebook page explicitly says that it's maintained by Organizing for America."

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Sep 10th, 2010 @ 2:15pm

        Re: Re:

        In fact, President Obama's Facebook page explicitly says that it's maintained by Organizing for America."

        But is that page actually registered to Obama or Organizing for America? If the latter, then wouldn't it be within Facebook's terms and thus within the law?

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 10th, 2010 @ 5:57pm

      Re:

      He can barely write his own name, I know he has changed it several times, and has memory problems due to drub problems, but come on. Watch him sign a bill, he looks at the teleprompter between every letter to make sure he has it right.

       

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Sep 10th, 2010 @ 12:22pm

    Srsly!

    Obviously we've forgotten that plebeian laws do not apply to patricians.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 10th, 2010 @ 12:22pm

    Most larger bands would be guilty then too for having their managers, friends, or family members run their pages. Smaller bands usually handle their own.

     

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      IshmaelDS (profile), Sep 10th, 2010 @ 12:31pm

      Re:

      Not sure they would be guilty, wouldn't their manager be part of the band? (In a legal sense) It would be the same for corporations that run facebook pages, the person updating it is (hopefully) a member of the organization.

       

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        A Dan (profile), Sep 10th, 2010 @ 12:41pm

        Re: Re:

        Marketing groups hired by a corporation would, presumably, be in the same category as Palin is in this example.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Sep 10th, 2010 @ 3:07pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Marketing groups hired by a corporation would, presumably, be in the same category as Palin is in this example."

          Not if the actual updating was done by someone inside the company. You think maybe Palin's page is being updated by someone while they're "inside" her (shudder)?

           

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    MrWilson, Sep 10th, 2010 @ 1:06pm

    Why should the corporations be required to spend so much money employing lobbyists and buying politicians to write the laws of this country when they could just streamline the process and allow the corporations' instructions to become law as soon as they are arbitrarily made up?

    I'd write more about this, but I'm going to go rewrite the terms of use for my blog so that anyone who even clicks on the url owes me a million dollars.

     

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    NAMELESS.ONE, Sep 10th, 2010 @ 1:35pm

    @2

    An amputee will ave software like stephen hawkings does so that he/she can use there own account without someone else.

    THERE'S no excuse and politicians that use facebook er should i say there "staff" should get the boot.

     

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    AudibleNod, Sep 10th, 2010 @ 3:24pm

    power of attorney

    Would it be possible to comply fully with the Terms of Use if Sarah Palin (or anyone else) granted an agent the Power of Attorney?

     

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    NAMELESS.ONE, Sep 10th, 2010 @ 3:43pm

    @12

    go look up accessaability on google

    please read the first billion things and bugger off you troll

     

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    mickmel (profile), Sep 10th, 2010 @ 4:09pm

    Incorrect - Their actions (likely) comply with the Facebook TOS

    While I agree with the sentiment of the article, the facts aren't quite right.

    Sarah Palin's public face on Facebook is a "Page", which by definition can be handled by multiple users. As long as they're not logging into her personal account, which they'd have no need to do, I don't see how this would break the TOS. They can log into Facebook as "Bob" and "Judy", and as long as they have admin rights on her Page then it's not a problem.

    If you want to find violators, just look for any small business or church that's on there as a user profile (rather than a Group or Page), which is a clear TOS violation.

     

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    Oh Yeah, Sep 10th, 2010 @ 10:09pm

    I'm a fool to do your dirty work

     

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    Chris in Utah, Sep 10th, 2010 @ 11:17pm

    Suddenly reminded.

    we "agree" to dozens of website terms of use every day, usually before we even read them

    I'm suddenly reminded of an old story mike. Though I don't recall hearing anything. So here ya go. 7,500 Online Shoppers Unknowingly Sold Their Souls Published April 15, 2010 | FOXNews.com

    Always been a fav story of mine to share.

     

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    Kevin Carson, Sep 10th, 2010 @ 11:56pm

    Wait a minute....

    ...You're telling me that stupid c**t hired a ghost writer, and her Facebook page STILL looks like the work of a semi-literate third-grader? Please tell me her Twitter isn't ghostwritten. Surely she didn't pay a professional writer to come up with "refudiate." Did she pay someone to write those notes on her hand?

     

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    RJones, Sep 11th, 2010 @ 3:36pm

    Give me a break who is bored again to start this idiotic garbage about Sarah AGAIN.....It getting old you idiot....

     

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    tm, Sep 12th, 2010 @ 4:45am

    obession

    You people who are obsessed with Palin need counseling or a girl friend... something. Really it's embarrassing.

     

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    Christopher (profile), Sep 12th, 2010 @ 7:42am

    Actually, by the stupid federal laws, yes, not adhering to a site's "Terms of Usage" IS a federal offense.
    Shows you how stupid the laws that our country are passing are, doesn't it?

     

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    RJones, Sep 12th, 2010 @ 3:24pm

    Speaking of needing a GF on the pc at 4 in the morning you my brother/sitter need a life.....

     

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    darryl, Sep 12th, 2010 @ 6:43pm

    This article is the "REAL CRIME".

    NO, terms of use are not "LAWS", and therefore breaking the terms of use are not a crime.

    The only CRIME here is mike attempt to gain some more FUD for his adjenda.

    The 'other' 'crime' here is mikes ability to say whatever he wants and things to try to confirm his side of the story.

    The real crime here is how stupid it is to claim that this is an any way a crime...

    Terms of use are not the law, and mike if you do not know that allready, then you im sorry to say has a zero grasp on the real world..

     

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      abc gum, Sep 12th, 2010 @ 7:51pm

      Re: This article is the "REAL CRIME".

      "NO, terms of use are not "LAWS", and therefore breaking the terms of use are not a crime."

      - This topic has been headline news and was discussed on this site at length. If you are interested, read up on it.
      http://www.infoworld.com/d/adventures-in-it/criminalizing-tos-violations-519

      "The only CRIME here is mike attempt to gain some more FUD for his adjenda."

      - And that agenda is ... ?

      "The 'other' 'crime' here is mikes ability to say whatever he wants and things to try to confirm his side of the story."

      - Exercising ones first amandment rights is now a crime? What a bizarre thing to say.

      "The real crime here is how stupid it is to claim that this is an any way a crime...
      "

      - Agreed

      "Terms of use are not the law, and mike if you do not know that allready, then you im sorry to say has a zero grasp on the real world.."

      - I think most people agree that TOS should be a contract issue rather than a criminal offense. In addition, I think that Mike has a much better grasp on things than yourself, but that is just my opinion. I suggest that you try to keep up on current events, that way you might avoid looking ignorant.

       

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      Christopher (profile), Sep 13th, 2010 @ 1:19am

      Re: This article is the "REAL CRIME".

      Ah, but as I said in my earlier post... there ARE federal laws that make violating a sites 'Terms of Usage' CRIMINAL!

      As in the thing that they tried to go after the mother who drove the girl to suicide for!

       

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