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

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.

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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

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33 comments
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  • RE: Why You Should Think Twice About Opting-In to the Delicious-AVOS Transfer

    Sounds like standard legalese to immunize the new owners from any liability implications. DHS/FBI/DOJ and NSA routinely scrub for data and provisions in the Patriot act allow them to access profiles without warrants. Should any of these 3 letter government agencies find prosecution material, then safe harbor under DMCA is simply not enough to stave off legal action.<br><br>All delicious, diigo or any cloud hosted services should never assume their privacy is protected like a swiss account. You don't like it? Then use client side services only.
    shikary
    • RE: Why You Should Think Twice About Opting-In to the Delicious-AVOS Transfer

      @shikary Thanks, I really enjoyed the article in a bad way. Really made me think about opting "out". Jim @ http://www.allfloormachine.com/
      cloudsifter
      • RE: Why You Should Think Twice About Opting-In to the Delicious-AVOS Transfer

        Very relevant article. I enjoyed to read about it. Thanks
        <a rel="follow" href="http://www.printsolutions4u.co.uk/">leaflet printing</a>
        SmithRoy
  • Not Just Standard Legalese

    Legalese on the Privacy changes in parts, yes: but in the Privacy section they've also changed their policies around under-18 users. That's not just legalese. I highly recommend reading both in comparison.

    The change to Terms is part standard legalese -

    - BUT it begins a major change in regard to user content.

    They're not making that clear, at all.
    Violet Blue
  • RE: Why You Should Think Twice About Opting-In to the Delicious-AVOS Transfer

    Can you recommend another bookmarking site like delicious? I have been looking for something similar, but to date, I have not really found it.
    solobizcoach
    • Well,

      @solobizcoach
      have you looked into Diigo and Google Bookmarks? While not as permissive as Delicious they're alright.. (imo)

      I haven't tried Pinbord.in myself. But it's the most similar one to Delicious regarding TOS. Although you have to pay(only once) like 9 bucks to join.
      cameigons
  • Try Pinboard

    Moved my bookmarking over to Pinboard and it feels very similar to Delicious. I actually didn't read the terms until now but was pleasantly relieved to find that they don't appear to have been written by a lawyer. Check it out.
    leeahaynes
  • RE: Why You Should Think Twice About Opting-In to the Delicious-AVOS Transfer

    AVOS has a Google PR of 1.
    Delicious has a Google PR of 7.
    Sabreblade
  • Big Deal

    Sheesh, Violet - your alarmist headline had me worried there for a minute. I'm not understanding your beef -
    do you think the very experienced founders of YouTube will go all evil on us and start censoring stuff just to piss people like you off? Not likely.

    Delicious is a private company, so free speech rights just don't apply. Whether you're using Facebook, Twitter, or any private site, you need to respect the wishes of the host.

    What's more, you can't even issue a stream of profanity on the public airwaves. Just ask Howard Stern about that. Besides, how much porn and offensive content gets widely linked on Delicious anyway?

    You're really making a mountain out of molehill. After reading this post, I'm even happier to have opted in to the new Delicious terms of service. The new owners seem to actually care about the future of the service - unmanaged sites where anything goes are generally worthless. Whittle's law: "In the age of user-generated content, the bad drives away the good."
    dave.whittle@...
    • Yes, it's a Big Deal

      @dave.whittle@ I'm glad you commented, thank you. Let me parse your comment so I can respond to everything.

      > Sheesh, Violet - your alarmist headline had me worried there for a minute. I'm not understanding your beef -

      My issue is that they have changed the Terms and the way the service works and did not tell the users. The change is huge if you know who uses (used) Delicious. The change was so non-transparent that people are reacting with surprise when they compare the changes I've shown by copy/pasting and putting them side-by-side. Additionally, users now face punitive actions for violating the changes. It's a big deal if you use the service. Perhaps you do not.

      > do you think the very experienced founders of YouTube will go all evil on us and start censoring stuff just to piss people like you off? Not likely.

      You presuppose that because you think the new owners are "good" (as in, not "all evil") that we should trust them not to exercise Terms they have added. Just because someone is perceived as "good" we should not abandon criticism and caution. If we do, we lose our objectivity and become like TechCrunch and only say good things about people we like (because it serves us to do so, while it does a disservice to everyone else).

      And I did not write (or state anywhere else) AVOS would act on their Terms "just to piss people ...off." You are making this part up.

      > Delicious is a private company, so free speech rights just don't apply. Whether you're using Facebook, Twitter, or any private site, you need to respect the wishes of the host.

      Frees speech is not in my article (again, you have added this). Additionally, I hate it when people cry "Free speech" when a company acts on its own rules in it own sandbox.

      > What's more, you can't even issue a stream of profanity on the public airwaves. Just ask Howard Stern about that.

      The internet is not, and will *hopefully* never be "the airwaves." This isn't the FCC's domain.

      > Besides, how much porn and offensive content gets widely linked on Delicious anyway?

      LOTS. Some of Delicious' biggest and most active communities were sex link collectors and people that cataloged the strange and bizarre, the political and the offensive. That's why the old Terms were a perfect fit for the users. Don't like it? Change the channel.

      The users have not changed - the service has, and they didn't tell the users. I'm just trying to tell the users.

      > You're really making a mountain out of molehill. After reading this post, I'm even happier to have opted in to the new Delicious terms of service. The new owners seem to actually care about the future of the service - unmanaged sites where anything goes are generally worthless. Whittle's law: "In the age of user-generated content, the bad drives away the good."

      That's your opinion and I'm glad you left it here. Good that you'd be happy to trust a company with your hard work and data, and community - absolutely blindly because you *think* they might be good people who "seem to care."

      I'll end with my favorite quote, which happens to come from a friend, John Gilmore. "The internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it."

      In this case, it looks like a number of people have routed themselves over to Pinboard.
      Violet Blue
      • RE: Why You Should Think Twice About Opting-In to the Delicious-AVOS Transfer

        @violetblue

        "That's your opinion and I'm glad you left it here" is a cop-out. You have not engaged his opinion at all. Instead, you have indulged in a childish mockery of genuine debate, using opinions like clubs to bash each other with.

        Trading quotes passed of as 'laws' is just as bad.

        What is even stranger, the one thing I found truly odious in the new TOS (as you described them) is something you STILL have said next to nothing about: that the new owners have the right to delete ALL of the user's content for one alleged violation.
        mejohnsn
      • Bye Bye Delicious

        @violetblue

        Thanks for your article. It was timely and informative journalism. I'm bad about clicking through TOS because I don't want to spend my life reading the hundreds of TOS for internet and technology companies who's products I use daily.

        The possibility of having some or all of my bookmarks deleted is completely unacceptable. I'm also bad about making backups. I'll be routing myself over to Pinboard too. I almost did that before AVOS bought them.
        colinnwn
  • thank you

    Thanks Violet. I skimmed the AVOS T&C and hesitated for two days. I'm glad you've broken it down for us. It is very disconcerting. So if we do choose to continue using Delicious, we should constantly back up as the bookmarks could be mysteriously removed at any time for reasons that AVOS deem are offensive.

    @dave.whittle, yes the irony indeed! If a bot sees your post as spam and censors it, imagine what AVOS bots will do when they delete entire accounts based on similarly fallible filters.
    ricmo
  • RE: Why You Should Think Twice About Opting-In to the Delicious-AVOS Transfer

    gpp thing i'm lazy, that yahoo e-mail has been in my box for days and I haven't gotten around to doing anything. Thanks for the info Violet, I'm going to back up all of the relevant links to firefox and start using sync for now.
    KBot
  • Worry only if you save links to offensive or illegal content

    I have to agree with @dave here, the article makes it seem like AVOS is on a manhunt against people saving things online. I think that they are really are just taking a stance against having their services being used to store links to what they consider inappropriate content. If you want to save links to torrents, porn, or other illegal or inappropriate content, you'll have to find another service provider, and that's ok. AVOS is the new owner and it's up to them to decide what kind of content goes on their site and what doesn't.

    If I come here and post a bunch of SPAM as a comment on your article, are you going to leave it and say "Oh well, it's what he wanted to post on my article."? Absolutely, not. You'll moderate the comments and get rid of the spam comment. AVOS has decided that certain content will be deemed not worthy of being saved and hosted on our services and they don't want it there. Not a big deal, it's their service, we as a user we either deal with it or move on.
    flavmartins
  • RE: Why You Should Think Twice About Opting-In to the Delicious-AVOS Transfer

    Thanks Violet, I really appreciate the heads up. As someone who uses private delicious bookmarks for what might be called "obscene" content and public for the rest, lacking a centralized computer, I'll have to be more vigilant backing up my content and keeping up my diigo/pinboard mirrors. You're right that this has the potential to have a big impact on the current user community- just watch the front page closely for a day or so and anyone can see what I mean- but people will eventually move on to one of the other cloud options, I'm not too worried. What is a little annoying is that this has been kept so quiet. I understand that it's buried in the TOS, but ideally you'd think they'd want as few people breaking their rules as possible, so wouldn't it be helpful to call a little more attention to the major changes?

    The problem is I'm scratching my head about what exactly constitutes "obscene" or "vulgar" here. Hardcore visual pornography I'm guessing yes, that one's easy, and I haven't run across that much of it on delicious anyhow. But written erotica? E-romance novels on the level of grocery store pulp fiction, with steamy scenes? Photos of war or videos of violence? Artistic nudes? Avant-garde fashion photography with exposed or semi-exposed breasts? The f-word, in a title given to content or in linked content itself? Gated mature content that is restricted to adults? How about non-offensive content with keywords that get knocked out by filters all the time, like breast cancer informational sites and others related to women's health- will they operate on some kind of crowd-based reporting system, or use bots to scan for keywords? What about links to sites that host both clean and "offensive" materials?

    I like delicious and the freedom of exploration the tagging and "popular tags" system gives me, and I would like to continue using it in some capacity, but I have no idea how this could be enforced with regards to the extreme variety of content- all in different mediums- currently on delicious in a way that /isn't/ arbitrary. Overall I would actually prefer more constrictive and better enforced rules that were well articulated to ambiguity- "no nudity period, no visual blood, text restrictions of blah blah", whatever. There's still time for them to clarify, I hope we'll see some guidelines before they take over. However, seeing as they're asking people to input their current content /now/, this would have been the best time to make clear what kind of content was and wasn't acceptable.
    catemonster
  • Is there really a choice?

    I agree users should certainly be aware of the changes, and it is great that you posted this article to help inform people, but I don't see the harm in accepting the TERMS even if you don't like them.

    You either accept the new terms, or your account goes away.

    If you accept and happen to have 'offensive content', your account or bookmarks might get deleted.

    So make a good backup. The export function in your delicious account is pretty easy to use.
    zoredache
  • Thank You

    I unlike many of the posters do not view this as standard "legalese". I would not want to try to log in 1 day only to find out that my thousands (seriously) of bookmarks are gone because I bookmarked a sexual harassment or political story to read later. Please post a follow up when you receive more information.
    k3vin187
  • Not only censorship...

    The new privacy policy states "AVOS may sell, transfer or otherwise share some or all of its assets, including your Personal Information, in connection with a merger, acquisition, reorganization or sale of assets or in the event of bankruptcy."

    So, does this mean that any of my 'personal information' can be shared (in the (eventual?) event of a merger/bankruptcy) with other companies *without my explicit permission* (because by accepting the privacy policy, I've already implicitly given permission)? What if the "next company" to hold my information wants to exploit it, or sell it to marketers, hand it over to governmental agencies, etc. ?
    ALISON SMOCK
  • Privacy, Obscenity, and a Heads Up

    I think AVOS should have been more open with those changes in the ToS from the beginning. It is what is courteous, and right, to do. To be fair, there is the possibility that they didn't realize the change this would make. Maybe. But I think they are in their full right to make such a change, and I sympathize with their alleged attempt to "clean up" the site. In my opinion, "you shouldn't be doing it anyway."

    Sadly, I also think that this move might move people that house obscene stuff into other services, so that the abundance of obscenity in other services go up (making them less valuable, say, for "legit" investors, etc.) while theirs go down (making them more "legit").

    I am worried, though, about how they might enforce this rule: getting all my links deleted because I once posted something wrong (or, perhaps, that they mistakenly categorized as wrong), or because one of my links is not in accordance to their view of "appropriate," is scary. I would not feel safe putting all my links there with no backup.

    Finally, if what Alison Smock mentions about privacy is all the privacy policy says about the matter, then that is very scary indeed. What is needed is an article that guarantees that such a sharing of information will only happen if the other party agrees not to exploit the information (sell it to marketers, etc.)
    riofrios