Social networks are becoming ever more popular, and Facebook is right at the top of that push to become mainstream. The problem is that popularity breeds contempt, and that’s exactly what Facebook seems to be demonstrating towards its users right now.
Facebook, which recently celebrated its fifth birthday, is now more popular than ever. Along with Twitter, it’s obtaining new users at an incredible rate of knots. But those new, as well as existing, users should be careful about what they upload to or post on Facebook. Because Mark Zuckerberg claims ownership of everything you do with your account… forever.
Facebook changed its Terms of Service last week, but the changes were barely noticed by anyone. That is, at least, until The Consumerist pointed out the not-very-subtle changes that had been made, especially in regards to User Content.
Even under the old Terms of Service, you already granted Facebook a perpetual license to do what it wanted with your User Content. So any photos you uploaded to the site could be used elsewhere, any notes you had written could be reproduced without question. Basically, Facebook owned you. But most people accepted these Terms because they knew they always had the right to delete their membership and move on. Except now they don’t.
A couple of important lines were deleted in the transition from the old Terms of Service to the new, namely:
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.
Now, they no longer appear, and instead we get:
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.
In essence, this means Facebook now owns you, or at least everything you do, say, write, or post on the site. And not just while you’re a member but also after you decide this social networking malarkey isn’t for you and clear off to try out the next big Internet trend.
Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook, has since responded to the hailstorm that headed his way over the weekend thanks to these changes. In a new blog post, he basically states that the changes have been made to simplify everything and to protect Facebook but that the company isn’t doing this to profit or otherwise gain from you and your content.
The whole thing feels very underhanded and shady and at this point, despite the attempts at clarification, I’m wary of putting anything new on Facebook. Certainly, if you own photographs, poetry, song lyrics, or any intellectual property that you wish to retain the rights to, I’d avoid putting them in the vicinity of Facebook.