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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 monday >

First POST: Zucked Up

Mark Zuckerberg responds to criticism of "zero rating" Facebook access in India; turning TVs into computers; how Facebook is changing the way UK users see the upcoming General Election; BuzzFeed's split priorities; a new website for "right-of-center women"; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Mugs

No surprise here, but email list open rates are down; the real reason campaigns want to send you a free bumper sticker; Hillary Clinton wasn't alone in dodging inquiries from the House Oversight Committee about private email accounts; organizing opt-outs from high-stakes testing on Facebook; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Edges

Let the White House know what you think about the new homepage; why Democrats need a competitive primary to maintain their edge in political tech; California Highway Patrol reminded to not talk about how they track political protesters on social media; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Anomalies

Rallying uncommitted voters under a centrist umbrella; a defense of aggregation for a positive-sum Internet; UK says no to ban on killer robots; and much, much more. GO

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