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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

RSS Feed thursday >

First POST: Data-Driven

Get to know Clinton's digital team even better; Ted Cruz election announcement-related fundraising offers peak into the coming data-driven campaign arms race; New York City launches online community engagement pilot program called IdeaScale; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Too Much Information

Will Facebook become the Walmart of News?; Hillary Clinton's digital team; how easy it is to get your hands on 4.6 million license plate scans; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Firsts

Political reporters use Yik Yak to pep up stories about Ted Cruz's campaign announcement; The New York Times, Buzzfeed and National Geographic may agree to let Facebook host their news on its servers; Google fiber users to soon get targeted television ads; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Cowed

TedCruz.com for president; Meerkat fever; who does Facebook work for (probably not you); Medium, "the billionaire's typewriter"; and much, much more. GO

friday >

First POST: Checking

US pressures Germany to not offer asylum to Snowden; study shows the extent to which political advertising overshadows political news coverage; new site gives a minute-by-minute breakdown of most popular US gov't websites; Upworthy co-founder apologizes for breaking the Internet; and much, much, more. GO

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