My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, a Research Assistant Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, and a Fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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Facebook is a utility; utilities get regulated

From day one, Mark Zuckerberg wanted Facebook to become a social utility. He succeeded. Facebook is now a utility for many. The problem with utilities is that they get regulated.

Yesterday, I ranted about Facebook and “radical transparency.” Lots of people wrote to thank me for saying what I said. And so I looked many of them up. Most were on Facebook. I wrote back to some, asking why they were still on Facebook if they disagreed with where the company was going. The narrative was consistent: they felt as though the needed to be there. For work, for personal reasons, because they got to connect with someone there that they couldn’t connect with elsewhere. Nancy Baym did a phenomenal job of explaining this dynamic in her post on Thursday: “Why, despite myself, I am not leaving Facebook. Yet.”

Every day. I look with admiration and envy on my friends who have left. I’ve also watched sadly as several have returned. And I note above all that very few of my friends, who by nature of our professional connections are probably more attuned to these issues than most, have left. I don’t like supporting Facebook at all. But I do.

And here is why: they provide a platform through which I gain real value. I actually like the people I went to school with. I know that even if I write down all their email addresses, we are not going to stay in touch and recapture the recreated community we’ve built on Facebook. I like my colleagues who work elsewhere, and I know that we have mailing lists and Twitter, but I also know that without Facebook I won’t be in touch with their daily lives as I’ve been these last few years. I like the people I’ve met briefly or hope I’ll meet soon, and I know that Facebook remains our best way to keep in touch without the effort we would probably not take of engaging in sustained one-to-one communication.

The emails that I received privately to my query elicited the same sentiment. People felt they needed to stay put, regardless of what Facebook chose to do. Those working at Facebook should be proud: they’ve truly provided a service that people feel is an essential part of their lives, one that they need more than want. That’s the fundamental nature of a utility. They succeeded at their mission.

Throughout Kirkpatrick’s “The Facebook Effect”, Zuckerberg and his comrades are quoted repeated as believing that Facebook is different because it’s a social utility. This language is precisely what’s used in the “About Facebook” on Facebook’s Press Room page. Facebook never wanted to be a social network site; it wanted to be a social utility. Thus, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Facebook functions as a utility.

And yet, people continue to be surprised. Partially, this is Facebook’s fault. They know that people want to hear that they have a “choice” and most people don’t think choice when they think utility. Thus, I wasn’t surprised that Elliot Schrage’s fumbling responses in the NYTimes emphasized choice, not utility: “Joining Facebook is a conscious choice by vast numbers of people who have stepped forward deliberately and intentionally to connect and share… If you’re not comfortable sharing, don’t.”

In my post yesterday, I emphasized that what’s at stake with Facebook today is not about privacy or publicity but informed consent and choice. Facebook speaks of itself as a utility while also telling people they have a choice. But there’s a conflict here. We know this conflict deeply in the United States. When it comes to utilities like water, power, sewage, Internet, etc., I am constantly told that I have a choice. But like hell I’d choose Comcast if I had a choice. Still, I subscribe to Comcast. Begrudgingly. Because the “choice” I have is Internet or no Internet.

I hate all of the utilities in my life. Venomous hatred. And because they’re monopolies, they feel no need to make me appreciate them. Cuz they know that I’m not going to give up water, power, sewage, or the Internet out of spite. Nor will most people give up Facebook, regardless of how much they grow to hate them.

Your gut reaction might be to tell me that Facebook is not a utility. You’re wrong. People’s language reflects that people are depending on Facebook just like they depended on the Internet a decade ago. Facebook may not be at the scale of the Internet (or the Internet at the scale of electricity), but that doesn’t mean that it’s not angling to be a utility or quickly becoming one. Don’t forget: we spent how many years being told that the Internet wasn’t a utility, wasn’t a necessity… now we’re spending what kind of money trying to get universal broadband out there without pissing off the monopolistic beasts because we like to pretend that choice and utility can sit easily together. And because we’re afraid to regulate.

And here’s where we get to the meat of why Facebook being a utility matters. Utilities get regulated. Less in the United States than in any other part of the world. Here, we like to pretend that capitalism works with utilities. We like to “de-regulate” utilities to create “choice” while continuing to threaten regulation when the companies appear too monopolistic. It’s the American Nightmare. But generally speaking, it works, and we survive without our choices and without that much regulation. We can argue about whether or not regulation makes things cheaper or more expensive, but we can’t argue about whether or not regulators are involved with utilities: they are always watching them because they matter to the people.

The problem with Facebook is that it’s becoming an international utility, not one neatly situated in the United States. It’s quite popular in Canada and Europe, two regions that LOVE to regulate their utilities. This might start out being about privacy, but, if we’re not careful, regulation is going to go a lot deeper than that. Even in the States, we’ll see regulation, but it won’t look the same as what we see in Europe and Canada. I find James Grimmelmann’s argument that we think about privacy as product safety to be an intriguing frame. I’d expect to see a whole lot more coming down the line in this regards. And Facebook knows it. Why else would they bring in a former Bush regulator to defend its privacy practices?

Thus far, in the world of privacy, when a company oversteps its hand, people flip out, governments threaten regulation, and companies back off. This is not what’s happening with Facebook. Why? Because they know people won’t leave and Facebook doesn’t think that regulators matter. In our public discourse, we keep talking about the former and ignoring the latter. We can talk about alternatives to Facebook until we’re blue in the face and we can point to the handful of people who are leaving as “proof” that Facebook will decline, but that’s because we’re fooling ourselves. If Facebook is a utility – and I strongly believe it is – the handful of people who are building cabins in the woods to get away from the evil utility companies are irrelevant in light of all of the people who will suck up and deal with the utility to live in the city. This is going to come down to regulation, whether we like it or not.

The problem is that we in the tech industry don’t like regulation. Not because we’re evil but because we know that regulation tends to make a mess of things. We like the threat of regulation and we hope that it will keep things at bay without actually requiring stupidity. So somehow, the social norm has been to push as far as possible and then pull back quickly when regulatory threats emerge. Of course, there have been exceptions. And I work for one of them. Two decades ago, Microsoft was as arrogant as they come and they didn’t balk at the threat of regulation. As a result, the company spent years mired in regulatory hell. And being painted as evil. The company still lives with that weight and the guilt wrt they company’s historical hubris is palpable throughout the industry.

I cannot imagine that Facebook wants to be regulated, but I fear that it thinks that it won’t be. There’s cockiness in the air. Personally, I don’t care whether or not Facebook alone gets regulated, but regulation’s impact tends to extend much further than one company. And I worry about what kinds of regulation we’ll see. Don’t get me wrong: I think that regulators will come in with the best of intentions; they often (but not always) do. I just think that what they decide will have unintended consequences that are far more harmful than helpful and this makes me angry at Facebook for playing chicken with them. I’m not a libertarian but I’ve come to respect libertarian fears of government regulation because regulation often does backfire in some of the most frustrating ways. (A few weeks ago, I wrote a letter to be included in the COPPA hearings outlining why the intention behind COPPA was great and the result dreadful.) The difference is that I’m not so against regulation as to not welcome it when people are being screwed. And sadly, I think that we’re getting there. I just wish that Facebook would’ve taken a more responsible path so that we wouldn’t have to deal with what’s coming. And I wish that they’d realize that the people they’re screwing are those who are most vulnerable already, those whose voices they’ll never hear if they don’t make an effort.

When Facebook introduced the News Feed and received a backlash from its users, Zuckerberg’s first blog post was to tell everyone to calm down. When they didn’t, new features were introduced to help them navigate the system. Facebook was willing to talk to its users, to negotiate with them, to make a deal. Perhaps this was because they were all American college students, a population that early Facebook understood. Still, when I saw the backlash emerging this time, I was waiting and watching for an open dialogue to emerge. Instead, we got PR mumblings in the NYTimes telling people they were stupid and blog posts on “Gross National Happiness.” I’m sure that Facebook’s numbers are as high as ever and so they’re convinced that this will blow over, that users will just adjust. I bet they think that this is just American techies screaming up a storm for fun. And while more people are searching to find how to delete their account, most will not. And Facebook rightfully knows that. But what’s next is not about whether or not there’s enough user revolt to make Facebook turn back. There won’t be. What’s next is how this emergent utility gets regulated. Cuz sadly, I doubt that anything else is going to stop them in their tracks. And I think that regulators know that.

Update: I probably should’ve titled this “Facebook is trying to be a utility; utilities get regulated” but I chopped it because that was too long. What’s at stake is not whether or not we can agree that Facebook is a utility, but whether or not regulation will come into play. There’s no doubt that Facebook wants to be a utility, sees itself as a utility. So even if we don’t see them as a utility, the fact that they do matters. As does the fact that some people are using it with that attitude. I’d give up my water company (or Comcast) if a better alternative came along too. When people feel as though they are wedded to something because of its utilitarian value, the company providing it can change but the infrastructure is there for good.  Rather than arguing about the details of what counts as a utility, let’s move past that to think about what it means that regulation is coming.

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79 comments to Facebook is a utility; utilities get regulated

  • David

    Citizen oversight, yes. danah boyd on the board of directors, yes. Government regulation, heck no! Private citizens and danah know more about what is going on with Facebook than some government bureaucrat. What we need is less government, not more government.
    Facebook is a utility like Microsoft Office or Internet Explorer. Facebook is a company and an internet service. If people do not like the policies, they can go to Myspace or some other service. And Facebook is a free service. It does not have monopoly powers and there are not barriers to entry

  • Brett Glass

    If Facebook is a “utility,” then Google is a thousand times as much so. So, why does the author mention Facebook but not Google? I hope it doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that Google funds the Berkman Center.

  • JP

    Don’t forget that utilities usually get government funding and socialized expenses in some form or another. “Social” media will be a hybrid socialized media of sorts. Socialized expenses and privatized profits. A model not too uncommon in this “capitalist” economy, as we all know.

  • jkd

    @danah, absolutely agreed as to 2) – what I was trying to tease out was that IMO, Facebook’s approach to the market is much more of a would-be monopolist than a would-be utility. And a lot of that does have to do with, as you note in 3), how the attitude is received and and addressed in terms of regulation. They don’t seem to want to do the world a service so much as just be in charge and set the rules.

    I’m not as bearish on regulation as a general matter – I think that it’s very useful when markets cannot otherwise function in a just/efficient/equitable manner. One way of approaching regulation in this instance would not be merely addressing the narrow-bore privacy issues but really clearing up the brush in terms of EULAs and ToS. Making the law clear and consumer-oriented would go a long way towards addressing not just this issue but also things like financial and other service provisions.

    @Bertil, I also fear that Zuckerberg has fallen for his own hype to the extent that he now believes it to be objective and pre-existing reality. As you point out, he’s coming from a pretty privileged place without questioning that privilege, or looking at the larger perspective of his users’ positionalities.

  • Hamish Downer

    I’m with @Don. The regulation that would make sense would be to say there must be open standards covering protocols for interchange with different social network sites, as there is with email. I can use gmail while you use hotmail. Richard Stallman can run his own email server. And we can all talk to each other quite happily. If I decide I don’t trust gmail’s privacy policy (and, more importantly, practice) I can move to yahoo mail.

    I would love to see something analagous in social network sites. The protocol would cover the basics, and then more advanced stuff could just be on one site. We could argue about what the basics covered, but status updates, photos and events are the key ones I really care about. Then the applications to send each other a vegetable or do the latest variant on ‘poke’ could be site specific.

    So then when facebook is getting too frisky with my data then I can move to gsocial (or whatever) but maintain contact with my friends. It would probably be a similar hassle to moving email address, but it would be doable.

    If there was some reasonable sorted campaign about it, it’s possible facebook could be pushed into implementing this without actually having to be regulated. But it would mean they lost their monopoly position. Given the way they’ve treated power.com [1] I won’t be holding my breath.

    [1] http://www.eff.org/press/archives/2010/05/03

  • Interesting thought: that FB would behave better if FB believed it might be regulated. And if it aspires to be a utility, then it aspires to be something that, in most countries, is regulated.

    That said, FB’s quacking doesn’t make it a duck. If some governments mistake it for one, it’ll be interesting to see how they regulate a beast that spans borders.

  • intel_chris

    To me the real question and I believe Danah captured it well is what is the commodity the Facebook is selling. What does Facebook have a monopoly on? The answer to that question is the connectivity to its network and the private information that people have placed on it. It is that private information people want to protect. It is that connectivity they cannot afford to lose.

    Because my comment was so long the rest is at http://bit.ly/a1pDob

  • paul schejtman

    facebook is a monopoly

    they are now going into other businesses

    isnt that illegal?

    they are also bullies

  • paul schejtman

    just like at&t facebook will one day be divided

    it used NETWORK EFFECTS to achieve a phone-style monopoly

    we dont need to wait to see if competition develops 20 years down the road

    because facebook is a monopoly now

    the SEC should investigate

  • Heidi

    I can’t think of any utility where the usefulness depends on the participation of others.

    Heat and water will be useful to me whether I am the sole consumer or one of millions. No social network of one is useful.

  • Heidi: the telephone? the Internet? Both are viewed as utilities when it comes to regulatory endeavors.

    Also, keep in mind that TV and radio are viewed as utilities when it comes to regulatory approaches. You may not think of these things as necessary but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t regulated as utilities.

  • Heidi

    @zephoria yeah, after I hit Submit I thought “oh, government”. The phone, the internet, tv, radio, even libraries, I feel inhabit a different point on the spectrum than something like a social utility or citizenship, where the usefulness and inherent nature of those two is extremely dependent on co-participation.

    Not precisely sure what I’m trying to get at generally, but specifically I know when I stopped using FB (deactivated actually, chalk me up as one of those people who didn’t realize you *could* delete your account) in October, the utility of FB went down, ever so slightly, for my friends — who couldn’t simply hit Invite but now had to remember to email or text me directly. The same scenario would apply if I’d stopped using the phone, but if I stop watching tv or switch to solar power?

    The impact of individual participation on the utility of a utility is interesting to me, but I suppose that doesn’t actually make a social utility less of a utility, just one of a different order.

  • Having worked on utility regulation for nearly a decade as the California Legislature’s point man on telecom, the definitive word is that a utility is that which the law defines as a utility. Its regulation likewise is determined by the law. There are no natural reasons or economic rules why a thing is so called. It’s a political struggle. Neither competition nor its lack qualifies or disqualifies a service being characterized as a utility.

    A common carrier is a service that a service that, if arbitrarily denied to one party, advantages another in a way that cannot be overcome through similar other means. The common law basis for this designation is ferry service. The operator who controls passage at a chokepoint must be regulated to prevent the use of the right of way for personal advantage. Again, such a designation, for all the economic jibber-jabber, is a matter of law, whether a king, a legislature, or a regulator commission makes the determination.

    In the case of Facebook, it probably qualifies based on its scale and power to control chokepoints for most people. This doesn’t require that everyone be subject to its control. In 1981, I wrote a report to the California State Assembly, Access Rights to the Electronic Marketplace (Assembly Office of Research), that argued for utility regulation of then nascent network-based information services not to restrict their growth. On the contrary, the purpose of regulation was to enlarge the space that threatened to become the exclusive place to do business for large corporations, thus threatening the use of the “places” online for the purpose of citizens’ public speech.

    Even earlier, in 1977, Walter Siembab and I submitted comments to the FCC in its Computer II inquiry why computers as part of telecommunication networks should be regulated entities, for much the same reason. Our comments were lost by the FCC and were not submitted in time to become part of the record. The FCC ruled that networked services were not regulatable per the Communications Act of 1934, a ridiculous position in light of how integral they are proving today.

    My point is that this is not a new topic, but one with substantial roots in the discourse of the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s that was drowned in the backwash of the Web 1.0 tidal wave with it promises of online utopias and better ways of life for everyone. It can’t be disputed that the technology we now use is in many ways remarkable. But cannot be disputed, either, that the the ways the technology is put to use, domestically and globally, is not always in the public’s interest. That’s why arguments about whether to generally regulate “technology” or not are vapid, but also why arguments for the regulation of a specific service are useful and necessary.

    It’s not what Zuckerman says about his monopoly that matters (although courts might find it interesting), it’s how it operates in what environment and for what purpose that counts.

    For my part, I believe that any commercial entity holding the reins for as massive and dominant an information utility as Facebook has become is fair game for utility designation, possibly even common carrier designation, and thus for regulation. Getting a legislature to agree now is going to be easier than when FB owns the entire market of connectivity and the legislators too.

    That was the case with the railroads in the early 20th Century. History should not be forgotten.

  • Luc

    Facebook wants to brand itself a utility, but it is not one. Such branding…

    A – gives an impression of monopoly
    B – gives an impression of necessity
    C – gives an impression of public service
    D – seems to remove responsibility in regards of their users (“We just provide a tool”)

    To the question: If Facebook wants to brand itself as a utility, should they also fear regulations?

    After reviewing FB behavior with its Beacon, and the ensued class action, I doubt fear of regulations, or even regulations themselves, will do much for the users. From a legal perspective, FB clearly displays arrogance which is not unusual for a multi-$B company.

    I believe what needs to be done is, on the contrary, to shatter the utility image.

    A – Is Facebook a monopoly?

    Facebook is an advertising network among others, not a monopoly. There is fierce competition from several companies, including “Looking at your Wi-Fi” Google. The troubling part is that in order to increase the performance of the advertisement, more user data is required. In fact, to some extent, competitiveness is what drives Facebook to suck our life data from our fingers.

    B – Is Facebook a necessity?

    Here, I disagree with you, danah. If Facebook is a necessity for people, so does eating well, exercising, brushing teeth, and so on. None of these activities are regulated. Some may argue that Facebook is a necessity for national security agencies that track of individuals, in which case, regulations risk to go against privacy, not for it.

    On the other hand, if Internet goes down, our economy, and to some extent, our national security will be affected.

    C – Is Facebook a public service?

    One can argue that Facebook has nearly half a billion users making its service “Public”. Facebook, however, develops its service for its advertisers, not its users. Many do not see this point, but Facebook is about investors whose objectives are definitely not in the public’s best interests.

    D – Is Facebook responsible?

    Can Facebook say: “We are just a utility, you use it or not”? Here we will assume that when registering with Facebook, you see enough usefulness in the agreement to justify giving away part of your data.

    Then, as brilliantly shown by Matt McKeon, Facebook changes its service, and again, and again, … Those changes are imposed and are more useful to its advertisers than its users. They affect the nature of the existing service as per the initial agreement. When such changes occur, a service company should provide its to cancel the agreement.

    This is where, in my opinion, lays Facebook trickiest fault. They tell users they can go, but they do not provide a mean to take their network (bulk email list), their photos, and their posts with them. You could say they do a bait & switch, with a massive engineered lock in effect.

    For me, if regulation were required, it would be here. You want to play with my life, fine. But then give me the choice to remove it from your platform so I can move it somewhere else. As simple as that!

  • the public discussion concerning privacy seems to be about technological developments. fb always takes twitter as an indication to open up. others say that if you have something to hide then you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.

    imo the real issue isn’t the technological development but the development of social acceptance.
    people drinking, doing drugs, cheating etc. it’s not exactly news in the history of human beings. however, it isn’t something you want to show publicly as, depending on what social/cultural environment you belong to, this can lead to consequences and punishments like not being considered for a job.
    in theory it’s a good thing if everyone sees every side of human nature, how we all really are and be more accepting but human beings have a tendency to judge others, and i don’t think we as human beings are anywhere near ready to be judgmental free in making decisions concerning others. moreover, i find the way facebook sells their users out is like a slap into 500M peoples’ faces who, as you’ve pointed out, made facebook the success that it is today. as you’ve mentioned, that sort of cockiness and greed has cost other big companies to tumble, and i’m ready to move on to the next big thing!

    btw, i first stumbled to an article about your speech at SXSW, before the whole facebook f8 fiasco. it made me want to scream: finally, someone who understands the whole issue about privacy concerns!
    after reading this and your last blog entry, i couldn’t agree with you more. great insightful and thought-provoking posts, looking forward to read more from you!

  • Brett Glass

    I don’t use Facebook, don’t need Facebook, don’t miss Facebook. If I want a Web page, I will build my own rather than letting Facebook invade my privacy or take control of my personal information. Why is Facebook a problem? On the other hand, as I’ve mentioned earlier, Google is a problem. You can’t use the Web without encountering its monopoly or having a site attempt to infect your machine with its spyware. Seems to me that the author is barking up the wrong tree here. Perhaps if Berkman were not funded by Google she’d address the REAL elephant, er, monopoly in the room.

  • Hi Danah,

    First of all I would like to thank you for all the information you share with us, ironically, about sharing information. You’ve really opened my eyes to many corners of this dilema I have been somewhat oblivious to. I have a blog of my own, and focus mainly on music and culture. And to be honest, the main reason I feel compeled to stay on facebook, is beacause of the publishing of my WordPress posts through it. I was wondering if you had any advice on how I should proceed. Delete my facebook acount = less people reading my WordPress posts. Keep it = me not being too happy or comfortable. If you have a minute, I would love to know what you think.

  • The issue is not so much “privacy” as it is “trust,” I think…and I for one am losing any reason to trust Facebook and Marky Mark. And nothing will destroy a brand –no matter how powerful it may be perceived to be — faster than a lack of user trust. No site, no matter how popular or utilitarian or powerful (are you listening, Mr Google?) is invulnerable.

  • Salomon Trismosin

    I agree with you. The other school of thought is that Facebook is not a utility, and that it is just another web site, and that it is up to the users whether to use it or not.

    However, when you have many people around you use it, then it switches from being a web site into a utility. The problem here is a problem of large numbers – Facebook is being used by a significant percentage of the world’s population. When a free market organization grows this big, it has to be regulated to some extend.

    On the other, I don’t think that it should be regulated in the sense that electricity or gas are regulated. I think the the real requirement is to impose certain legal restrictions, on the user agreement between Facebook and its users – at this point, it allows many liberties to Facebook, and very little to users.

  • The premise of FB as utility is a really interesting one; and well supported by many of the comments above. Zuckerberg’s hubris is particularly curious given that FB’s entire value is generated by its users and the content they provide. FB’s success is entirely driven by the sheer mass of its users – Zuckerberg had the dumb luck to the right person at the right time. Plus one other element.

    Sign up with Twitter, and you retain the IP and copyright over anything you send out. Twitter retains on sign-up a licence for it to disseminate your output – with FB, they get lock, stock and barrel the moment you hit that I agree button. Photos, texts, updates, groups you might start, the lot – every single last character belongs to them. You have signed over your IP.

    This allows FB to generate income using it however they please, but it might also be a way to bring them back into negotiation with FB users, the makers of the communities. The contract signed by FB users is so one sided, an examination by a US court might bring FB HQ back to the negotiating table? And nor should such an action be just in the US – our High Court bench here in Australia is itching to have a significant copyright & IP case come before it. The Google Book settlement, still ongoing, offers an interesting precedent.

  • http://peterreynolds.wordpress.com/2010/05/23/facebook-its-a-snide-snide-world/

    I think Facebook is giving the internet a bad name. As far as I’m concerned you can regulate it to death!

  • Currently Facebook has a right to terminate this Statement at its whim. Instead, it should have a right to do so only under predefined conditions. If Facebook can disable people’s accounts and do so with no consequences, then Facebook has a real opportunity to mess up individuals’ social lives. Disabling an account is the online equivalent of imprisonment – barring human contact with the outside world. It should be taken very seriously, and has to be enacted in a way that will satisfy the human consciousness. The conditions for disabling an account have to made clear and precise, and when it is done, they have to be communicated to the user, and the user has to be warned, and given a chance to defend himself. Facebook has to be spending a great deal of its income on regulating which account gets disabled, and which doesn’t.

  • Christoph Micklon

    I joined Facebook several years ago because I wanted to be in contact with my friends online. I got that, what I didn’t realize what how much I shifted my communications over it. I stared many new friendships here. I spend countless hours playing their games and even spending money on the site. I have become very dependent on the existence of Facebook. I don’t know how I could just leave.

    Yes, it is my choice to stay and continue to utilize their services. Yes, I have become increasingly concerned over privacy issues. Yes, I have considered leaving, but haven’t because I just feel too dependent on its services. I can no easier leave Facebook than tell my local electricity company disconnect me and go off the grid. I simply don’t have a realistic choice.

    I love freedom of speech, and have written columns in the newspaper advocating it, I am a capitalist at heart, but I am scared as hell that Facebook has become so dominant. It does little to protect privacy, after-all any application that a Facebook user intentionally and occasionally unintentionally uses has access to their personal information. A very recent article stated that Facebook officially responded to a data “leak” as not really a security compromise. I tend to disagree that my Facebook data is a security compromise and you should feel the same about your account information.

    Until Facebook is forced by regulation it will continue to operate as a freewheeling utility with little concern, other than its image. Which I emphatically state most people need to comprehend just how monopolistic Facebook is.

    If I am allowed to say goodbye to my friends on Facebook, I shall. Until there is more protections for the consumers, I would not just deactivate my Facebook account, but permanently delete it. Do you know how to permanently delete your Facebook account?

    Christoph Micklon
    QueryAll on the Internet

  • Not Facebook and not any other internet service provider, has the right to cancel a personal account where communication material and personal data are storage in the person’s account.

    At the time there is all the technology and means to monitor and control what the subscriber is downloading and importing in his or her account and can be stopped from any misuse of the rules, why instead methodically is disabling the personal account and depriving the human being from the undeniable right of communication with people of his or her life and also by disabling the account is deprived from having access to his or her personal matters.

    We are living in a free civilize society and no body is above the constitution and the laws of the Country we live.

    Facebook and any other internet provider can make the rules and regulations they want but, they can not give you confusing notifications and warnings and then use them as an excuse to have their way of causing a chaos on a human’s life, this is abuse of power, outdated and very unsocial, also is against facebook’s slogan that help you connect and share with the people in your life…

    Facebook disable account sites full of pages with so many people suffering in desperation, anger and depression, for been deprived from their undeniable right to be able to communicate with the people in their life!!! to my self looks like a “Disabled Accounts Concentration Camp” and this is an eyesore on the facebook image, if Mark Zuckerberg intends to repair Feacebook’s Battered image has to give priority to this issue and be more respectful to the people who supported facebook and brought it to this stage of a great success..

    Also, Disabling Personal Accounts Is An Insult To The American Liberty Symbol And To The Whole Civilized Free World!!! They Must Stop Doing This Immediately

    Modesto Glykis
    Montreal – Laval, Quebec

  • Dear Danah, Facebook is not a Utility and can not ever be a Utility but Internet as a Whole is a Utility, therefore Internet has to be regulated by every country in order internet service providers and or social internet service providers to be legally bound by using this Utility…

    Therefore, I like to Challenge the Facebook right to disable or cancel unilaterally personal accounts where communication material and personal data are stored and which by doing so deprives people from their undeniable right to communicate and having access to their own personal data.

    Thousands of ordinary citizens are in desperation from the unfair treatment by the senseless and confusing warnings of Facebook, their accounts becoming methodically disabled and letting women, children, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters, whose only mistake was to fall into Facebook’s luring promotional offer that promised Facebook helps you connect with the people of your life and abandoning other internet programs and habits in order to join Facebook and then ending up having to go down to their knees begging to no avail in order to have access to their own personal precious data.

    This kind of practice is a shame and disrespect to Humanity and very well resembling a Neo-Nazi mentality.

    However, for sure this problem is something new in today’s society and the only solution in my opinion is for the governments around the world to protect the ordinary citizens from this kind of arrogant abuse of power from the social internet service providers in general and in this case facebook!!!

  • The abusive treatment to millions of people around the Glob by Facebook, is becoming an Eyesore to the whole Free World and a Mud Throwing on the Face of Every Nation’s Leader and the members of their Government…..They are all having their Facebook Account with their Picture Posted on their Profile…Looking Handsome and Beautiful and Turning a Blind Eye to the Neo Nazi Treatments of Certain Facebook Subscribers With Minor User Issues…!!!!!! Is Better The world Leaders and the members of their Government to Go Down To The Dark Alleys of Facebook Concentration Sufferers ~”Facebook account disabled ” ~ ” Please Unblock My Facebook Account” ~ “Facebook account reinstated” ~ “Please Unblock My Facebook Disabled Account” And to More…In order to See the Thousands of People representing a fraction of the sufferers down to their knees begging for their disabled account to be reactivated….!!!!!! And then Perhaps, will understand that is time to protect the ordinary Citizen from these Arrogant Facebook people who are using their skills and the Internet Technology to Methodically Disabled the personal accounts and torture People Psychologically and Abuse Their Human Rights..!!!!!

  • Google is a beast compared to FB and controls much much more. Heck, Google has pushed out all of the information directory providers in lieu of its on superior product. It is only a matter of time before congress steps in and begins to regulate.

  • Looks like it is already sucking at the government teat. Facebook’s first annual earnings report contains an accounting gem: a multibillion-dollar tax deduction for the cost of executive stock options and share awards.

    The tax-research and -lobbying organization says companies such as Facebook should treat stock options the same in their reports to shareholders as they do in their tax filings. Citizens for Tax Justice calls the tax footnotes in Facebook’s Jan. 30 financial statement “an amazing admission,” but there’s nothing illegal about the breaks the company is claiming. Companies like Facebook are allowed to treat the cost of non-cash compensation, such as stock options, as an expense that reduces profits, essentially the way they treat cash compensation such as salaries.

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