Facebook Now Owns Your Content – Forever

Update: This subject made the front page of Drudge yesterday. The article is here.

I’m big into social media, especially as a way to promote your business. Even so I’ve never been head over heels about Facebook as a means to promote business. I know many businesses out there who see great returns from their networking on on the site.

Facebook: All your profile belongs to us.

Facebook: All your profile belongs to us.

Facebook recently made a change to their Terms Of Service that make me a little less enthusiastic about the site.

Their Content, Not Mine

As long as I can remember Facebook has always had in their TOS that they can do whatever the heck they want with anything that gets posted to their site. However, until the change this month, if you ever closed your account that “irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense)” of theirs would expire.

Sure they’d probably still keep your stuff on their servers. But at least they wouldn’t have the rights to distribute it once you closed your account.

You see, their TOS used to have this at the end of the Licenses section:

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.

But I guess that Facebook decided they just couldn’t stand to ever part with any content you gave them (and probably thought was yours) so they  deleted those two sentances from their TOS.

Business Implications

Does this mean that Facebook is a bad idea for businesses? No. I think it still can be a great way to help get the word out about your business. Just understand that anything you post/upload to Facebook is not yours, it’s theirs.

What it does mean is that it is especially important to keep in mind the Law of Online Perpetuation:

Internet content will persist in direct relation to how embarrassing it is to you irregardless of your efforts to remove it, so don’t be stupid.

And in the case of Facebook, that could be forever.

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Comments

  1. So basically if I upload a picture on my facebook account, I am waving my copyright to that photo is that correct? So once I upload it I no longer have the copyright to it.

    But before I was still giving facebook copywrite of that photo, but in the even that I removed it, they non longer had copyright is that correct?

  2. I looked at Facebook and decided against using it. In general, I want to have my own content myself. I would rather build up my blog and my personal web site than spend time building up profiles and interacting with closed communities like Facebook.

  3. Sarah, Yeah. That’s the way I read it. Once you upload it to Facebook you are giving them unlimited rights to do whatever they want with it without ever compensating you for anything they gain by that use.

    John, I would rather build my own content too. However there is still something to be said for spending time where the people are. And there are a whole lotta folks on Facebook!

  4. Hey, this is really sad news. I am about start my own website and its services’ promotion on facebook. But now I have to think twice before putting anything on facebook.

  5. I hated Facebook already. Now I hate them more.

  6. i guess this is the time to delete my facebook accnt?

  7. They have hired the best guys from Google, and was this outcry too difficult to fathom? And the recent sorry message displayed to every user who was trying to delete their account looks even more stupid!

  8. This was something I saw on the local news. The two minute spiel went on to say that young folks applying for jobs should be cautious about using social websites, naming Facebook and Myspace as two of many.

    Apparently employers and University faculty scan this sites against applications and weed out those who choose to advertise themselves in embarrassing and compromising situations.

    I think this applies with any site you pass information to; you never know where it will end up!

  9. thanks for you..

  10. Now they are the big brothers. They have all the rights to do whatever things in their own ways. Luckily, I have no account with them. Save my time.

  11. I heard this news from my friend. In the very first place, I thought it was some kind of joke, but after I login to my FB account and look over it, I realized that it’s a truth!

  12. this is unfair….. and i am sure lots of guys are going to delete a lot of content from their profiles and change the way it looks

  13. Personally, I find facebook recently becomes more commercial.

    • I think this is true for many social sites. Myspace is another example of a more monetized site. (I think that’s what your referring to.)

      That could result in a positive or negative effect. If it’s too commercialized, it loses it’s “community” appearance. On the other hand, perhaps it can make the site money allowing the staff to make improvements on it.

      Not that these two sites are in any financial distress of course :)

  14. Obviously, Facebook did not anticipate the backlash relating to the “We own your content” policy, and the ensuing charges of exploitation.

    It appears that Facebook is “clarifying” their position, and now publicly avers that users own their “intellectual property.” However, it is still unknown what the end result will be regarding the dissemination of public information.

    As my Grandmother would advise, exercise caution. Use common sense, if not “good taste,” in what you post.

    Best Regards,
    Andy Lax

  15. I can’t believe the sense of entitlement of these people. The first dictator was Google–now Facebook.

  16. It has to be realized that the ultimate goal of any of these social networking sites is to own us … why else would they track everything you do everywhere you go and so on … can we call it “big internet?”

  17. This is really unbelievable! There will be a lawsuit over this, you can count on it. Just because a company can state something in their TOS doesn’t mean it’s enforcable under law. TOS agreements have already been shot down on multiple occasions in federal court. Also, what happens when someone uploads a photo or video that doesn’t belong to them in the first place and FB decides to use it in a promotion. This is just a totally boneheaded move all the way around..

  18. This is why you shouldn’t put anything on Facebook that you wouldn’t want employers or family members to see

  19. Every 14 year old out there – TAKE NOTE! Everything on your Facebook profile can and will be used against you when you A.) Apply to college, B) Get a job, or want to get promoted in that job, C) Run for office, D) Find your soulmate who then discovers what a loser you were/are, E) Want to join the military, police academy, air force, NASA, IRS, FBI, CIA… Be careful.

  20. I think any company can not have legal ownership of the content submitted by users. As far as the distribution is concern simply they can’t distribute the content after closing the account. I hope some one will sue them in court.

  21. Im now going to be very careful about what I submit to Facebook or any other network for that matter – they own the rights to my photos? – no way!

  22. Re you kidding? So, if I use facebook to write a blog, or poems or whatever – they own it?

    Seriously – what are trhey thinking – that does not facilitate open discourse

  23. network for that matter – they own the rights to my photos? – no way! hm

  24. Just because a company can state something in their TOS doesn’t mean it’s enforcable under law. TOS agreements have already been shot down on multiple occasions in federal court. Also, what happens when someone uploads a photo or video that doesn’t belong to them in the first place and FB decides to use it in a promotion. This is just a totally boneheaded move all the way around..

  25. nd FB decides to use it in a promotion. This is just a totally boneheaded move all the way around..

  26. dont wanna believe, if i upload a a homemade video of my music, fb will be the copyright owner of my video ??

  27. i used to have a facebook account and saw that they were moving this way. i wouldn’t do anything revolving around business on the site just for the reasons you gave. plus, i got so tired of the 10,000 silly apps and invites i was getting. the great thing about facebook is you get connected to all these ppl you used to know. the bad thing about facebook is the exact same thing.

  28. I can’t see any reason why they will have the right to acquire legal ownership of the contents. They are not the absolute owner of these personal contents of their users right. However, I’m not quite aware if the statement provided by Facebook will truly be effective.

  29. nd FB decides to use it in a promotion. This is just a totally boneheaded move all the way around..

  30. FB turns to be… FBI. These guys just like Google who OWNS everything you search and keeps your logs forever, look like the biggest spying services in the world. With the help of public stupidity, of course…!
    Instead of Facebook you can make a free blog and instead of Google you can use other search engines that do not spy on you, since there are a few out there, just as good. Now a lot of people are worried……and for good reasons. Do you know what you searched last year on Google ?! What about yesterday ?! Or you know everything you did on Facebook ?! I bet you don’t but they do, they do know things about you that even you don’t remember anymore..which is frightening. Information is power, who has the power on you ?
    Internet, is not a safe place, intellectual theft and spying by the “big brother” is omnipresent, beware of that.

  31. Mauricia Atkins says:

    I was going to use facebook and myspace to upload my novels, songs and poetry, because I think the internet is a cool way to get your stuff publicized for free, but now I am deciding against that.
    Can anyone tell me what is the best way to publicize my stuff and how much it costs, because I still think there must be a safe avenue using the internet to do this.

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