The Greatest Trick the Devil Ever Pulled Was… Disclaimer: The Devil Doesn’t Pull Tricks

It looks like Facebook is finally winning a PR battle. Good for them.

Earlier this week, it was brought to light (again) that Facebook uses several of its smartphone apps to take all of your contacts and store them on its servers. Numerous sites ran with the news, but Facebook came forward and calmly pointed out the fact that it displays a disclaimer before taking a user’s contact data and storing that data on its servers.

Well fuck me! A disclaimer! My mistake!

Numerous sites that reported the news backed off, posting updates and new articles explaining that all this user outrage was misplaced. You bunch of peasant idiots! You did this to yourselves. There’s a disclaimer! A dis-claimer!

Let’s forget that not all versions of Facebook’s smartphone apps have had this disclaimer in early iterations. Let’s forget the numerous reports from people claiming they never used Facebook’s contact sync feature and yet STILL found their data stored on Facebook’s servers. Let’s also forget I fall into that category.

Here is Facebook’s disclaimer:

Zing!

If you clicked that pretty blue Sync Contacts button, you agreed that all contacts from your device could be “sent to Facebook and be subject to Facebook’s Privacy Policy.” Obviously, that also means you gave Facebook permission to store all of your contacts’ names and phone numbers on its servers forever, unless you manually delete them.

Obviously.

This, of course, is bullshit. The steaming kind. Facebook knows as well as you and I that agreeing to send your contacts to the company’s servers so that “your friends’ profile photos and other info from Facebook will be added to your iPhone address book” absolutely does not mean you’re agreeing to let Facebook store this data forever. Is there some clause in Facebook’s privacy policy that mentions this kind of douchebaggery? Probably. Does that make it ok? Probably not.

But you signed up for the service! You agreed to the terms! It’s YOUR FAULT!

Congratulations, you’re a contrarian.

If you think it doesn’t matter that Facebook is being sneaky with the disclaimer because it has the right to steal and store your contact data as per some barely-English legal jargon buried somewhere in its privacy policy, that’s cool. Rock on.

And if you believe that Facebook is being completely forthcoming with its users and explaining exactly what it intends to do with their data in the disclaimer above, regardless of its privacy policy, that’s cool too. No worries. 

In fact, just to show you I’m a good sport, let me take your car and get it washed for you.

If after an hour you find out that I’m keeping your car and not coming back, that’s OK, right? I didn’t steal it. After all, I told you I was taking it.