Who Owns Your Content On Facebook?

facebook logo and link to Plugged In RecruiterHave you seen the status update that’s been flying around on Facebook? It tells you to post this message on your Facebook profile as a way to protect your text and photos. Here’s a small excerpt:

I, (insert name), hereby declare that I own all content posted on my personal Facebook profile and my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, status updates, photos and videos, etc…

Having worked with contracts for a number of years, the first thing these messages made me think of is the terms of service I agreed to when I first got a Facebook account. The second thing I thought about is the process one has to go through to amend any agreement. I’m no lawyer but I know you can’t change terms you agreed to by simply stating – or hereby declaring – that you want different terms.

Today I read the Facebook terms of service which they call Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Here’s what’s on there today. If you find the text below is just a bunch of blah de dah and prefer not to read it, I’ll give a short explanation in human lingo directly below the quote.

You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings. In addition: For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.

Human translation: You own your content and Facebook gets to use it.

You hate that Facebook can use your stuff, right? Here’s the kicker. They have to use it. Otherwise, they can’t publish it to your friends’ feed.

Personally, I worry more about the third-party apps than I do Facebook. By that I mean the many games that are available on the site but are not created by Facebook, like Farmville, Birthday Cards, Words with Friends… I stopped using most third-party apps and revoked their status on my account when I realized that by authorizing the app, I was also authorizing them to use my friends’ data without their consent. The next time you click on an app that looks interesting, read the authorization carefully and decide what you think of the terms.

So, you do own what you put on Facebook, but you’re kind of renting it out. We can vote with our feet if we want to, but I would miss it.

What do you think? Do you have any comments to add? You’re very welcome to comment below or join us on the Plugged In Recruiter Facebook page.

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5 Replies to “Who Owns Your Content On Facebook?”

  1. Interesting to finally have that explained! Though I always think people get overly worried about privacy (life’s too short IMO)… But you’re probably right to be more wary of the third party apps since those companies usually don’t have the same big reputation to uphold.

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