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The Legal Nuances of Facebook Ghostwriting

BY Nancy Scola | Monday, September 13 2010

The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Marcia Hoffman makes the case that if Sarah Palin really does have someone else penning her provocative Facebook posts, she's a violator of Facebook's terms of service and quite possibly a criminal, at least in the eyes of Facebook's recent court filings.

But as juicy as Hoffman's "Is Sarah Palin a Computer Criminal?" headline is, it's worth keeping in mind that Hoffman is gunning for Facebook here, not Palin. (Barack Obama's not writing his own Facebook posts, as Hoffman points out.) The deeper story is that Facebook has argued that the scraping of its site by third-party social networks breaks its terms of service and points to criminal acts of computer fraud. The significance, then, is that Facebook has become an enormous platform, one attractive enough to consume a good chunk of the time of Sarah Palin (or ghostwriters), without a public consensus emerging about what's legally acceptable and unacceptable behavior on the platform. Facebook's left to write the rules of the game.

Palin, in fact, was the victim of one aspect of that ambiguity herself, when she was targeted by some folks on Tumblr who creatively triggered Facebook's black-box auto-deletion mechanism.

News Briefs

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Tim Wu says we shouldn't be so pessimistic about lobbying; Obama writes a thank you note to reddit; Ted Cruz wants to be the Uber of politics; Llamas!; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Impossibles

The FCC vote; a proxy Democratic primary battle in Chicago; Gov Andrew Cuomo begins deleting all state employee emails more than 90 days old; men talking about women in tech; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Off the Books

Chicago's "black site"; The New York Times reports "little guys" like Tumblr and Reddit have won the fight for net neutrality but fails to mention Free Press or Demand Progress; Hillary Clinton fan products on Etsy to inspire campaign slogans?; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Challenges

How Silicon Valley donors are thinking about Hillary Clinton 2016; Yahoo's security chief locks horns with the head of the NSA; Instagram location data catches a Congressman with his hand in the till; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Bows

CitizenFour wins best doc; Ken Silverstein resigned from First Look Media and took to Facebook to vent; why we need more Congressional staffers; who profits from the net neutrality debate; banning PowerPoint presentations; and much, much more. GO

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