Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Facebook repels pirates

Facebook has told Pirate Bay it doesn't want links to torrents popping up on the service:

Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt told TorrentFreak, “Facebook respects copyrights and our Terms of Service prohibits placement of ‘Share on Facebook’ links on sites that contain “any content that is infringing. Given the controversy surrounding The Pirate Bay and the pending lawsuit against them, we’ve reached out to The Pirate Bay and asked them to remove the ‘Share on Facebook’ links from their site. The Pirate Bay has not responded and so we have blocked their torrents from being shared on Facebook.”

Interesting. It's true that there is a pending lawsuit against Pirate Bay - although, given that it's pending, you might wonder if Facebook might not be better off waiting for the courts to decide on the lawsuit before springing into action.

It's also questionable if Facebook is wise to strike out these links from its end - because asking Pirate Bay not to share is fine; banning all links is fine. But once you start picking and choosing what links you're going to allow, Facebook shifts from being a platform to being an editor. Given that some torrents on Pirate Bay are completely legal, and some links to non-Pirate Bay webspaces are to unlicensed content, Facebook is now having to exercise a value judgement. And if a judgement is being made, sooner or later that judgement is going to have to be explained; especially why some torrent links have been allowed to remain active while others have been blocked, and why some services are targeted when others are not.

Oh, and also: Facebook has decided to not tell its users the truth about why iso links hosted on the Pirate Bay servers are being blocked:
According to the message you’ll see on Facebook it is because it “has been reported as abusive by Facebook users” but this is inaccurate.

At least be honest with your audience, Facebook. If you're sure you're doing the right thing, why hide behind a half truth?