Why Facebook Is Changing Its Terms of Service (For the Worse)

There are three possible reasons for the changes, and none of them are good

a person holding their hands up over a laptop computer
Another Facebook update is on the way, and this one you may actually want to read.
Dmitry Ageev / Getty Images

If you’ve used Facebook recently, you’ve noticed a warning about a change in the terms of service.

It reads: “Effective October 1, 2020, section 3.2 of our Terms of Service will be updated to include: ‘We also can remove or restrict access to your content, services or information if we determine that doing so is reasonably necessary to avoid or mitigate adverse legal or regulatory impacts to Facebook.’” (A preview of these new terms can be found here.)

Facebook terms of service update screenshot

There are a few potential reasons for this, as outlined by the tech site iMore:

  • It will allow the site to take down posts quickly during an election cycle. This could be actually good for taking down misinformation if (emphasis there) handled correctly … or it could be just another form of censorship, and particularly bad in countries with restrictive national laws regarding social media.
  • As the new terms are worded somewhat vaguely, Facebook could proactively take anything down so they won’t get sued.
  • A proposed law in Australia would force companies like Facebook and Google to negotiate with media publishers (and pay them) for content that appears on their sites, which prompted Facebook to suggest it would block users and news organizations in that country.

Our thoughts? The change is probably directly related to the third reason but definitely tangential to the first two.

For whatever reason, we’ll see the outcome starting on October 1.

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