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If you’re not already aware, FaceBook introduced new ToS which meant that even after you leave FaceBook, they own your data. The already own your data while you are a member of the social network because they have to in order to run their business. Most people do not object to that. However, this was seen by some as a step too far. Anne Petteroe, a fellow SAP Mentor was one such. She set up a FaceBook group on FaceBook called People Against Feabook New Terms of Service (TOS) Facebook Group. From my ZDNet article that partly covered the story:

Facebook does it again by jumping into a bucket of controversy over its revised Terms of Service. The upshot? my fellow SAP Mentor Anne Petteroe starts a People Against the News Terms of Service (TOS) Facebook Group the other day and wham! 40,000+ members. And old time bloggers thought that Jeff Jarvis’s very public Dell Hellwas an aberration that only a rockstar hack could amplify with any degree of success? Ferget it dudes – even the least of ‘us’ now has a voice.

An hour or so ago I heard that FaceBook has done an about turn, reverting to its old ToS at least temporarily while it works out a Bill of Rights for users. That’s an excellent outcome, albeit one of interim value. 

I’m not claiming, as I’m sure Anne wouldn’t that she can take credit for FaceBook’s  humiliating retreat. After all, this is not the first time FaceBook has messed up. It won’t be the last. BUT – to have accumulated what is now 66,000+ members in a matter of days is little short of mind boggling. As I write this post, Anne has Tweeted the group continues to grow at a rate of 2,000 per HOUR. I’m wondering what enterprise software vendors would give for that level of passion and commitment?

The point is that if you have the right argument, expressed in the right way then you can garner a significant following. In turn, that following can have influence in even the largest organizations.

Here’s Anne’s explanation as to why she set up the group in the first place. Among other things she says:

Personally it wasn’t so much about getting Facebook to change their TOS (at least initially). If you read the old TOS you would have known that they always sucked and probably always will. Ideally they would add the two lines they removed again, edit the wording in some places, explain why they felt they needed to change the Terms of Service and how these changes would affect their users.

For me it was much more a matter of Facebook AGAIN not communicating properly with their members. Is it too much to ask for a notification or an email stating that they have changed their TOS?

Perhaps the most important point though and one that resonates in the work I do on the buy side of enterprise software:

What I am hoping to achieve is for Facebook to realize that talking to your members actually is a good thing.

There are lessons for us all in this.

So what makes this a cause for celebration? 

I’m aware that some Community members do things that go un-noticed by the vast majority of SDN’ers. In recent times, I have seen a few go way above and beyond the call of any duty that you could reasonably expect. They don’t actively seek credit but quietly go about their business almost always seeking to do the RIGHT thing. That is often the best thing. We don’t make a habit of singing their praises but I believe that at least on occasion, the Community should celebrate when something outstanding is achieved. It doesn’t even need to be something with the potential impact of Anne’s action. You’ll know it when you see it. In my opinion, this is one of those times.

As an aside, I’d like to hope (or dream) that Community members will be inspired by this type of story and bring forward others who have done something insanely helpful/useful/contributory. As Anne demonstrates, you don’t have to be a well known rockstar geek or a mad keen BPX’er. You just need to be someone with passion to make a difference.

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  1. Marco ten Vaanholt
    It shows our SAP Mentors and our SCN contributors are much more than just somewhat important. We think they are one of our mos important soundboards. I’s kinda funny becuase I think Facebook could learn something from our community approach. Bigger does not always mean better.   It also shows that the voice of the customer is still becoming more and more important. I like it… a lot. Thanks for the write up Dennis and go Anne !
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