blogpost reviewing app.net ToS

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Michiel de Jong

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Sep 21, 2012, 3:36:23 AM9/21/12
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just found this review
http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/terms-conditions-app-nets-terms-of-service-privacy-policy-explained/
(on a blog that seems to have more reviews on there, so that's
useful!)

this is an interesting service to review because it aims to make a
change away from web2.0's "spying for free" business model, by making
it a paid service. this is interesting at least as a social experiment
to see how people react to that proposition, and also to raise this
important discussion.

otoh, they are still of course a proprietary and centralized platform,
so they have also gotten some criticism for that, and at first glance
from the above-mentioned blogpost it seems they may change ToS
single-sidedly at any time, which is something we have been rating
negatively in other services so far.

cheers,
Michiel.

Michiel de Jong

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Sep 30, 2012, 7:16:48 AM9/30/12
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i'll keep the points from this blogpost inside this thread, to avoid a spam explosion of one-message threads. if any of these points lead to discussion, we can fork them out.

we already had two data points about App.Net:
- they provide an archive of their ToS https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/tosdr/I7i-2EM0GVY
- changes published 5 days ahead (but without pro-active notification) https://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/tosdr/MCGx3DtQHM8/J13IJAikOTAJ

from the blogpost, i think we can extract the following extra ones:

1 - they request feedback from users (see https://github.com/appdotnet/terms-of-service/issues as well as the blue box at the top of their terms https://alpha.app.net/legal/terms/ )

2 - simple and easy to follow (i agree)

3 - pseudonyms allowed, good! i agree! this is an online identity provider, so keeping your personal life separate from your online life is important, and it's good that (unlike e.g. Facebook and Google+), App.Net allows this.

4 - you are responsible for what you upload, and some types of content are not allowed. specifically (the blog post mentions this further down under 'Copyright'), if you post copyrighted material to which you have no license, they will take it down and close your account

5 - the copyright license you give them is "limited" - good! the terms also state: "Aside from our limited right to your content, you retain all of your rights to the content"

6 - if you delete content, it is hidden from view immediately, and deleted entirely from their servers in max. 2 weeks. "It is then gone forever." - good!

7 - "breach of any of the rules outlined in the terms of service — including those above — may result in you losing your App.net account, and access to the service." - that's good because it's conditional on there being a reason to terminate your account. a lot of other services claim the right to terminate your account for any reason and/or at their sole discretion.

8 - their technology is proprietary, as is their logo and name, and you may not extract the content from their website. They state this under the "App.Net's Content" section, but it seems to also cover the content that other users upload. The blogpost doesn't explicitly pick on that last part, and i think that although this last part is unfair if you view them as a hosting provider, it is probably fair if you view them as a closed platform. that is, if a person publishes through App.Net, that content is not considered to have been published to the web in general, it is considered to have been published specifically to App.Net, and so App.Net mark their territory around that user content. A competing service may not scrape and republish it, regardless of whether the user who wrote and owns the content would allow that competing service to do so.

9 - App.net does not take responsibility for what its users post, whether on App.Net, or on website that have an inbound or outbound hyperlink with out.

10 - the review of the legal stuff is interesting, i would like to know also what Hugo and others think of this. I have read the all-caps part twice, and the second time it seemed to state that as a user you cannot sue them, except for the 50 dollars (or whatever 12 month fee) you paid. It does not mention class action lawsuits, but i'm not entirely sure where the line is and how we should judge this. Given my own limited understanding of this topic, we need to discuss it further to reach a clear conclusion, i think.

11 - (info) court of law is California (btw, this did make me wonder why they have no 'Cuba clause', see separate thread: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/tosdr/G8w02Z3RKRw ). the way disputes are settled are also described in the blogpost.

I'll ask Andrew to comment whether he feels this is an accurate selection of data points extracted from his blog post.


Cheers!
Michiel
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