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.

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Companies: facebook

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Comments on “If Sarah Palin Has Someone Else Doing Her Facebooking, Is She A Criminal?”

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33 Comments
A Dan (profile) says:

Re: 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.”

MrWilson says:

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.

mickmel (profile) says:

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.

darryl says:

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..

abc gum says:

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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