Why You Should Think Twice About Opting-In to the Delicious-AVOS Transfer

Summary:Delicious users should read the new AVOS Terms of Service and Privacy Policy closely, as the changes are both significant and potentially change Delicious' nature.

It takes "only 30 seconds" to transfer your Delicious bookmarks to its new owner AVOS, though few are aware that Delicious users are signing up to a vastly different set of terms.

Most people are unaware of what they just agreed to. Meanwhile, AVOS is conspicuously silent on the matter.

When it was leaked that Yahoo! was going to 'sunset' social bookmarking site Delicious, a sizable outcry was heard 'round the internet that significant community, value and data was going to be lost.

Since its inception, Delicious has been a teeming community of link cataloging and sharing. Like many of its acquisitions, Yahoo! essentially kept the lights on at Delicious to make the empty brand look occupied, while letting the site languish.

The recent announcement that YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steven Chen - with their company AVOS - had picked up Delicious and were going to breathe new life into it has been welcomed by many.

Two nights ago I was among those who received the transition email from Yahoo! encouraging me to do a quick-click transfer of my Delicious bookmarks to the new brand, AVOS.

As a longtime user, I was deeply concerned when I saw a pop-up warning telling me I was agreeing to AVOS' Terms and a separate Privacy Policy.

We all deal with enough questionable privacy activity with Facebook collecting our history, link records and data. What was so different, here?

Serious Changes to Delicious Terms and Privacy: Link Censorship and Discretionary Deletion

Taking a look at the current Delicious Terms versus AVOS's new Terms is eye-opening. Considering what Delicious' nature is, I think users need to be aware that the new Delicious is not going to be the same Delicious.

The rules of the Delicious link game are now quite different.

Where Delicious users were once free to link, collect and post any link they want to, this will no longer be the case. Especially in when it comes to so-called - and undefined - "offensive" content.

Current (and about to be former) Delicious Terms state:

The linked websites' content, business practices and privacy policies are not under the control of Delicious, and Delicious is not responsible for the content of any linked website or any link contained in a linked website. (...) In accessing Delicious or following links to third-party websites you may be exposed to content that you consider offensive or inappropriate. You agree that your only recourse is to stop using Delicious.

The New AVOS-Delicious Terms have new rules - rules that change Delicious in a serious way:

You agree not to do any of the following: post, upload, publish, submit or transmit any Content that: (...) violates, or encourages any conduct that would violate, any applicable law or regulation or would give rise to civil liability; (iii) is fraudulent, false, misleading or deceptive; (iv) is defamatory, obscene, pornographic, vulgar or offensive (...)

Punishment for posting links that violate the new Terms: AVOS-Delicious has the right to remove all your bookmarks/content at its discretion and without notice.

Also note in that excerpt regarding violating laws or regulations: does this mean linking to GeoHot-like issues, Torrent Freak topics, or links pertaining to the organization of revolutions?

This is not the same Delicious.

I mean nothing personal to my friend Marshall Kirkpatrick at Read Write Web, but I find the 'Why Every Single Person Should Take 30 Seconds to Opt-in to the Delicious Data Transfer' approach to be worrisome.

Also unlinked from any main pages at AVOS and difficult to find - unless you got the Yahoo! email - is the new AVOS-Delicious Privacy Policy that users are now agreeing to (here is the current, and very different Delicious Privacy Policy). Considering that we're not being clearly informed about agreeing to new use Terms, it seems that we should read the new privacy policy carefully.

Now, if you're the person reading this and thinking that if anyone posts to porn or offensive content, well, they shouldn't be doing that anyway... I promise tell you that eventually you will find out how idiotic this response is - the hard way.

And you're not a Delicious user.

Unless you're the one idiot that can tell all of us what constitutes "obscene, pornographic, vulgar or offensive" content - as there is no universal definition of these terms, and AVOS isn't exactly telling us that they mean.

Giving AVOS the benefit of the doubt, I emailed them as a ZDNet columnist two days ago asking specifically for help understanding the change in this section of the terms. I wrote AVOS:

I see that as per your acquisition of Delicious, users must agree to the AVOS Terms of Service, which are different than the Delicious Terms, both old and current. Specifically, your terms seem to prohibit publishing links to content that was not prohibited or actively censored under the old Terms.
AVOS Terms state that users may not "Post, upload, publish, submit or transmit any Content that (...) is (...) obscene, pornographic, vulgar or offensive."
Does this mean that Delicious will now be taking action against users for collecting these links? How will Delicious be policing this new policy?
I'd also like to know, what, exactly, constitutes Delicious content that would be considered "obscene, pornographic, vulgar or offensive."
AVOS is still silent on the matter. Maybe they're hoping it will just get bookmarked, and forgotten.

Topics: Legal, Social Enterprise

About

Ms. Violet Blue (tinynibbles.com, @violetblue) is a freelance investigative reporter on hacking and cybercrime at Zero Day/ZDNet, CNET and CBS News, as well as a noted sex columnist. She has made regular appearances on CNN and The Oprah Winfrey Show and is regularly interviewed, quoted, and featured in a variety of publications that inclu... Full Bio

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