What if that picture of your kids you put on your Facebook profile shows up in an advertisement? What about that note you wrote, or picture you created getting reprinted or used somewhere else online or in print? Even this post, written here on my blog but fed to Facebook as update to my profile, is susceptible.
How much is that worth to you, emotionally or even monetarily?
Truth is that most people with profiles on Facebook don’t know that Facebook (the company) can use whatever you put there for themselves, or is allowed to sub-license your content to others to use for whatever purpose they see fit. That has been policy as long as I can remember (since I signed up that is). After considering what it meant for my purposes I was okay with it. The “out” always seemed to be either removing content or closing your account.
End of story, right? Well, no. That is no longer the case.
As of February 4 2009, Facebook now claims the right to profile content forever, no matter if you remove it or close your account. Facebook previously stated:
“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.”
Those lines have now been removed and profile content will now survive removal of materials or termination of service.
Forever is a long time.
Those who pay attention to the legal ramifications of Terms and Conditions and Terms of Service agreements, and take concern with the privacy implications and appropriate usage of content posted via social networks, are brewing a well-deserved storm over the subtle but significant changes from Facebook.
A couple of quick summaries of the issue can be found on The Consumerist or Marketing Vox.
David Weinberger posted a link to a Facebook group opposed to the new Terms of Service and there are about 6,500 people already signed up. The mission of the group states:
We would like to have the Terms of Service changed back to how they were before Feb 4th 2009, including these lines:
“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”
The majority of users are most probably unaware of the Terms of Service to begin with and, the average Joe or Jane on Facebook likey have no clue that changes were made. Ask yourself how often you read legal stuff before you click ” I agree”? Ignorance is bliss. So, the word needs to spread.
How about you? What does this mean to you? Do you care? Will it change your use of Facebook?
Do you plan to join the group and spread the word?
Update: Forgot to include Mark Zuckerberg’s note about it AND a great post from Amanda French comparing TOS from MySpace, Flickr, YouTube, LinkedIn and other sites to FaceBook.