Facebook: We own everything

Facebook have announced they own all content published by users. The chat that this has subsequently caused across the blogosphere (and twitosphere) has been noisy and unsurprisingly not swinging in favour of Facebook owning pretty much everything that they possibly can.

Looking at their terms of service (taken from their site as of 16/02/09) the points to note that:

– The user is solely responsible for all content that they upload. This removes any accountability from Facebook for any content that is infringing any copyrighting (or future) legal disputes. Its at this point they want the user to agree to be responsible for content.

– Facebook is then granted a license for all content that they upload. From the definition below this can be used in pretty much anyway they possibly could ever want! (See bold below) Its a big list of rights and its a big issue that the majority of consumers wont be aware of. It hardly warns you of this when you upload a photo and publish it to all rather than a select view – nor when you post an opinion / video / comment (or pretty much any interaction at all with the site).

You are solely responsible for the User Content that you Post on or through the Facebook Service. You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settingsor (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof. You represent and warrant that you have all rights and permissions to grant the foregoing licenses.

The interesting point to look at here (from a professional perspective) is where this leaves brands. I currently work on Bacardi and, like many brands have invested in a social network page that facilitates a relationship outside of their brand site.  In this situation could brand published assets (such as exclusive video or images that we strictly administer digitally to adhere to their corporate social responsibility guidelines)  be re-purposed or used by Facebook for analytics, ad sales, consumer advertising, etc, etc…. ?

The key point to note in their clause is the importance of users privacy setting to what Facebook can, and can’t, share. They claim to adhere to publish material in line with your settings that you agree to (or apply to your account). From this I presume (but am by no means a legal voice!) that should your privacy settings restrict who can view your profile, see your photos or comment on your wall it will also mean that facebook will have to respect these same settings and have restrictions imposed on how they can use your material (should they choose to).

This makes users vulnerable who operate an open door policy to their settings. It links back to the cases seen recently of social identity thread where users who are open in their self promotion are seeing identity problems reflect back onto them.

With identity theft becoming more evident and people becoming more aware of the issues through the media – the chatter around the ownership and privacy policy that is being reported by Facebook can’t fail to be picked up and expressed by the press and make users aware of other reasons why having an access all areas pass to the intimate details of their lives isn’t necessarily a good idea.

The advice: To lock down your profile, be careful what you share open source versus behind closed doors. Use the simple rule that if you are happy for it to be viewed whenever, by whoever and exploited by whatever channel seen fit (at any point in your life) then keep it open and shout out loud. If you’re more conscious of that Saturday night photo that shouldn’t have been made public for the world to see you in your 2am glory – think twice…

Last point: Its not just your images – think about the scenario where your mate has published that 2am photo and her policy is unrestricted. Its her photo so her IP and, according to the law, Facebook’s right to license and distribute as they see fit.

Be careful who your friends are and think twice before that pose (or video) in front of the lens! Remember Aleksey Vayner….


Posted on February 16, 2009, in Social Media, Think Digital and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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