The Tribune makes a quiet entrance into the great Facebook Terms of Service Freakout. Since the article doesn’t link to the berserk Consumerist post that started all this, you might want to start here if you want to figure out what the hell’s going on.

Thus far I am inclined to agree with J.F. Quackenbush’s thoughtful argument that this contretemps is somewhat overblown; all Facebook has really done is extend rights they have already claimed beyond the point which you delete your account. That’s somewhat unusual compared to other social networking sites, but Facebook’s TOS have always been unusually aggressive. I enjoy any story that brings weird TOSs to light, and if this pushes Facebook to adopt Creative Commons copyright options like Flickr, I’m all for it (Flickr’s use of CC has been a great boon to public understanding of the CC movement, and Facebook adopting such a transparent use of the system would only help). But right now I’m a little bit confused as to why this blow-up is occurring now. The news works in mysterious ways.

FWIW, I can’t help but think, though I haven’t thought about it enough, that the TOS language in question is related to Facebook’s Social Ads idea–“ads you see on Facebook will be attached to the names and photos of your friends who like the products being advertised”–which caused a similar stir back in 2007 (and was just as quickly forgotten). I’d guess that they’re more interested in advertising internally on the site than selling books of your prom pictures. Honestly, I’m still puzzling all this out.

Update: Oh, nice catch at Mashable via a Consumerist commenter, theorizing that the change in TOS has to do with the new Facebook Connect: “the basic idea is that things you upload may end up residing on servers outside of Facebook’s direct control. These broad rights make it so that you can’t sue Facebook for some cached content on some other server….” Which is ironic, given that Facebook Connect is a step towards a more open Facebook.

Personally, I’m more tweaked about Facebook’s decision to hire Ted Ullyot as its legal counsel. The fact that this blowup followed the employment of a legal mind who was mentored by Antonin Scalia and Alberto Gonzales, one of the geniuses who brought you the politically motivated destruction of the Department of Justice (Ullyot was Gonzales’s chief of staff during the latter’s reign of epic fail), is causing me no shortage of schadenfreude.

Update II: A commenter at Consumerist notes: “And Consumerist’s enlightened non-grabby policy? It says the same damn thing… FAIL”

Update III: Ed Champion has a typically thoughtful and richly linked take; he’s pulling the plug.