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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 wednesday >

First POST: Jargon Busters

Changes in the RNC's tech team; big plans for digital democracy in the UK; how people in Cuba are making their own private Internet; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Stalking

How the DEA tracks millions of America motorists; will the Senate enter the 21st century?; Obama veteran Jeremy Bird's role in the upcoming Israeli election; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Video Stars

How the White House hit a home run on YouTube post-State of the Union; why the Barrett Brown sentencing casts a chill on online security research; how media producers use Crowdtangle to optimize their Facebook audiences; and much, much more. GO

friday >

First POST: Moneyballed

The Gates Foundation's new "global citizens" email database, and why it's a terrible idea; why young people like the NSA more than older people; using open data about NYC taxi drivers to ID Muslims; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Monkeying

Net neutrality proponents call foul on the GOP's plans; StandUnited.com seeks to be the right's Change.org; tons of civic tech news from mySociety, Chicago and Civic Hall in NYC; and much, much more. GO

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