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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  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. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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

  7. 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..

  8. 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

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

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

  13. 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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