Last week I wrote about Facebook’s latest privacy flub which involved a change to the Facebook terms of service that didn’t go over too well with Facebook users and the media.

In response to this, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg issued his standard apology. But that apparently wasn’t enough.

Yesterday, Facebook announced that it was creating an open governance model that is designed to give users a more active role in how Facebook is run and how things such as the terms of service are written.

On the Facebook Blog, Zuckerberg wrote:

We sat down to work on documents that could be the foundation of this and we
came to an interesting realization—that the conventional business practices
around a Terms of Use document are just too restrictive to achieve these goals.
We decided we needed to do things differently and so we’re going to develop new
policies that will govern our system from the ground up in an open and
transparent way.

He went on:

Beginning today, we are giving you a greater opportunity to voice your opinion
over how Facebook is governed. We’re starting this off by publishing two new
documents for your review and comment. The first is the Facebook Principles,
which defines your rights and will serve as the guiding framework behind any
policy we’ll consider—or the reason we won’t consider others. The second
document is the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, which will replace the
existing Terms of Use.

Some bloggers likened Facebook’s move to ‘democracy‘ while others were more skeptical.

Me? I think it’s much ado about nothing. Facebook’s move to create some sort of democratic governance framework is idealistic and unworkable. It’s also unnecessary.

This is about terms of service. We’re not talking about the Magna Carta or the Declaration of Independence here.

What’s so hard about developing a reasonable terms of service that provides your company with protection while at the same time not going beyond what’s necessary (e.g.taking rights away from users for no good reason)?

Thousands upon thousands of websites have terms of service agreements. Facebook isn’t the first company to be criticized for having an overbearing terms of service but most companies never run into problems. They have reasonable agreements.

I agree with ReadWriteWeb’s Marshall Kirkpatrick, who wrote that “Facebook appears to forget that it’s just one of many ways people use the
internet
“.

Facebook seems to make everything more complicated than it needs to be because it appears to believe that everything it does is revolutionary.

That isn’t the case. As impressive as Facebook is as a service and company, Facebook isn’t doing anything that demands more than a standard terms of service and a set of reasonable, common sense policies.

Follow the law in the jurisdictions you do business, get a royalty-free license from users so you can display the content users upload and let users remove their content (and their accounts) if they so choose.

What’s so difficult about that, Facebook?