Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Facebook TOS flap

Even people I know who don't use - take my parents, for example - have heard of the complaints by users of the changes to the sites in the last few weeks (see Google News).   It seems the verbiage can be interpreted to suggest that FB owns your content even if you cancel your account with them.

This has led people to be concerned that photos of their kids can, one day, be sold to an advertiser without your permission or consent.   As one person put, I might see my kids face on the side of a bus one day.

Statistically, I think that sort of concern is a stretch.  But overall, I understand people getting worried; it's the timing that I don't comprehend.

People: if you put a photo of yourself online, do you REALLY think you own it any longer?  Technically, yes, but practically speaking?  No way.   If I view your photo and it is copied to my cache, is it still your property?

I know: record companies have been arguing this for years, and they're right to make their case.  But they have billions to spend on litigation; do you really want to fight this battle should FB or anyone else sell your photos?

Suddenly, it seems, people are realizing that FB might archive their data indefinitely.  Don't you think they are legally liable to produce all content on any given user should a court order demand it?  Isn't this the sort of protection for children people have been clamouring about for years?

Here's an idea: if you are concerned in any way that someone might use your content without your permission, don't post it.   Otherwise, do not be surprised if all on-line services start noting in their TOS that they own your content.

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