so, you know those stupid licenses? the user agreements that they make you click through but no one ever reads? well, guess what. they define your legal rights - mostly eliminating them!
this is why you should be very cautious about doing "community" with an entity that is entirely a business. because you are always going to have more skin in the game than they will. and they can just pull the plug - on you, or on the entire game - for any (or no) reason at all, and without any notice. !!!
I'm not on myspace... nor facebook, linkedin, etc. nevertheless this kind of thing has bitten me on the ass recently with 1&1 internet.... and really, who among us hasn't agreed to these things, probably without even knowing what they say?
I am on tribe, but I see tribe as different than these other sites because they actually give a shit about the community instead of seeing it as cash cow which exists purely to sell aggregated info to advertising/marketing businesses. I also endorse the Well, where I worked for several years and which was one of the first BBS systems to focus on cultivating community.
the newer social networking sites are different. hell, even AOL is different! the entire reason most of these places exist is to make money for the shareholders. facebook seems to me to be the most nakedly avaricious of the bunch - if you haven't already heard, they set up a program - automatically, and with initially no way to even opt out - which broadcast information about a user's recent purchases to anyone in their networks. (eventually FB did cave in to pressure and implemented an opt-out - weak sauce, especially for the dude who bought a diamond ring in order to propose to his GF, who saw the update before he got the chance.) for more on this, google the words "facebook" and "beacon" together.
so, when facebook summarily shut down Jovino's account with neither warning nor explanation, I wasn't exactly surprised. he did a bit of digging and found this in their TOS:
The Company may terminate your membership, delete your profile and
any content or information that you have posted on the Site or
through any Platform Application and/or prohibit you from using or
accessing the Service or the Site or any Platform Application (or any
portion, aspect or feature of the Service or the Site or any Platform
Application) for any reason, or no reason, at any time in its sole
discretion, with or without notice, including if it believes that you
are under 13, or under 18 and not in high school or college. When we
are notified that a user has died, we will generally, but are not
obligated to, keep the user's account active under a special
memorialized status for a period of time determined by us to allow
other users to post and view comments.
basically, it says that they can axe your account, for any or no reason, at any time, with no warning. even if you DIE they can and will kick you off! have fun! and this is hardly an extreme example. you are clicking your rights away when you use these services!
for more examples, see also:
not that I really care what AOL does, but... look at the comments. people did invest themselves in these things, and they felt betrayed when they were cut off.
anyway, my point here is first, that is is always a good idea to know what you are signing and also to do business with those you trust. if it's important to you, back it up. when it comes to taking care of the users, most of these companies could not give a fart in a high wind! if your community is important, why not set up an independent listserv instead of taking the easy way out with a pre-packged solution which at the least will attach ads to everyone's messages, and at the worst will prove unreliable or disappear completely! we know people who have the technology. let's throw off the shackles of the commercial internet and stake our own claims, make our own rules, and, dare I say it, be the masters of our own domains!