Luca's meaningless thoughts  

The day CouchSurfing died

by Leandro Lucarella on 2012- 09- 13 13:08 (updated on 2012- 09- 14 10:54)
tagged bewelcome, couchsurfing, cs, en, freedom, personal information, privacy - with 0 comment(s)

Some time ago CouchSurfing announced that they will become a socially responsible B-Corporation. In case you forgot about it, here is what the creators of this utopic project said then:

I believed them, and when everybody went bananas about it I thought there was some extremism and overreaction. After all, you need money to maintain the structure for a service like CS and if this change would help, it was fine with me as long as the spirit of the community was the same.

Unfortunately, now I think all these people were right. A few days ago CS announced a change in the terms of usage and privacy policy. The new ones include terms as stupid and abusive as:

5.3 Member Content License. If you post Member Content to our Services, you hereby grant us a perpetual, worldwide, irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty-free and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, display, perform, adapt, modify, create derivative works from, distribute, have distributed and promote such Member Content in any form, in all media now known or hereinafter created and for any purpose, including without limitation the right to use your name, likeness, voice or identity.

They also removed all mention about being a socially responsible B-Corp, so, where is this heading at? I don't have a Facebook account because I appreciate my privacy and feel like FB never cared about it (among other things), but this terms of CS makes FB looks like the EFF!

Here is one of the many related discussions about the issue inside CS forums:

http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=7621&post=13000298

People are even making complaints in their's respective country data protection and privacy agencies. But I see little sense in it, at least from a point of view of being part of CS. Even if they fix now the terms to be more reasonable, I don't want to be part of it any more.

So, from tomorrow all the content you leave in CS will be theirs forever, irrevocably. Unfortunately there is no way to opt out, or keep the old content under the old terms, so they give me no option but to remove all the content I don't want to give them perpetual, irrevocable, sublicensable, etc. rights to. And that's what I'm doing right now.

I think for now I will keep my account open (with fake information about me, even when I'm violation the terms and conditions which says I should provide truthful information about me) because there is still a great community behind it and I don't want to loose all contact with it. But my plan is to start using BeWelcome.org instead, hoping they don't eventually follow the same path CS did (their website is open source so at least there is a chance to clone the service if they do).

So, thanks for all the good times CS, and RIP!

Update

It looks like CS needs more time to see the situation, in the terms and conditions page now says the new terms are going to be applicable starting on the 21st instead of the 14th of September.

Also, the issue hit the media, at least in Germany (Google translate is your friend):

Anyway, as I said before, even if they fix the terms, is game over for me, all trust in CS being a community rather than just another company trying to do data mining is gone.