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Facebook – “Oh No you Didn’t !”

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This is the news of the day floating around on business and social media blogs.  Needless to say – it is very scary.   Soak it all in folks:

Apparently Facebook has made some sneaky changes to their Terms of Use  which basically says that anything you have uploaded, written etc. onto the site at any point in time – is theirs – AND they can do whatever they want with it – forever.

You used to be able to close your account with Facebook and that meant that your content was not theirs to use anymore, their license to use it ended.  No longer the case – they own the rights to everything now – whether you close your account or not.

Here is the old TOS:

“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 settings or (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.”

The above stays in tact BUT they have removed these two lines from their TOS:

“You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content.”

And Facebook has added the following to the Termination part near the end of the TOS:

“The following sections will survive any termination of your use of the Facebook Service: Prohibited Conduct, User Content, Your Privacy Practices, Gift Credits, Ownership; Proprietary Rights, Licenses, Submissions, User Disputes; Complaints, Indemnity, General Disclaimers, Limitation on Liability, Termination and Changes to the Facebook Service, Arbitration, Governing Law; Venue and Jurisdiction and Other.”

(TOS via Consumerist)

So – it boils down to Facebook users beware and be cautious of what you do out there in Facebook land.  Don’t write anything that you want to retain the rights to.  Don’t upload pictures that you want to retain legal rights to.  

Always good to take the time to read the Terms of Service for any website or program you sign up for.

UPDATE: The founder of Facebook – Mark Zuckerberg – has posted a response and clarification on the change in TOS (I’m guessing they were inundated with complaints and emails today) on the official Facebook Blog

Digging around even further – this was posted this afternoon at The Industry Standard. A Facebook representative emaile them the following response and clarifiction:

“We are not claiming and have never claimed ownership of material that users upload. The new Terms were clarified to be more consistent with the behavior of the site. That is, if you send a message to another user (or post to their wall, etc…), that content might not be removed by Facebook if you delete your account (but can be deleted by your friend). Furthermore, it is important to note that this license is made subject to the user’s privacy settings. So any limitations that a user puts on display of the relevant content (e.g. To specific friends) are respected by Facebook. Also, the license only allows us to use the info “in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof.” Users generally expect and understand this behavior as it has been a common practice for web services since the advent of webmail. For example, if you send a message to a friend on a webmail service, that service will not delete that message from your friend’s inbox if you delete your account.”

So – sounds like the main issue/solution is privacy settings that everyone needs to pay attention to.

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One Response to “Facebook – “Oh No you Didn’t !””

  1. Good catch. Thanks for the heads up.

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