Facebook: Be Careful! Your Content is Theirs, Forever.


According to Facebook’s old terms of service, when you closed your account with them, their rights to your uploaded content expired. This is their old facebook policy. In reading through the old terms, I was still surprised at how much rights facebook had to my content.

But now Facebook claims rights to anything you upload, regardless whether or not you have removed the content or your account has been closed. Forever. They can even sub-license it.

This is current wording, which is the same as the old terms. However they removed the section at the end.

“You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof.”

so far nothing has changed (although read this carefully since this is what you have always agreed to).

And this is what has been removed:

“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.”

So no longer does their license expire. You can remove it, but once it was uploaded, it becomes theirs, with nothing to say they give up any rights to it.

In addition, the Termination paragraph near the end states:

“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.”

Here is Facebook’s new Terms of Service (as of Feb 4, 2009).

So don’t upload ANYTHING to Facebook that you don’t want to give away all rights to Facebook, permanently. So those pictures of you partying could come back to haunt you years in the future and there is nothing you can do about it. And if you upload any original material like pictures, drawings, songs, etc., you gave facebook rights to them permanently. I’m not sure exactly what that means legally, but I know that artists and musicians should be very, very careful. Does this mean facebook could use your original music for its advertising? I think so.

So you become famous and facebook could capitalize on it. Embarrasing pictures? Early artwork or music? I don’t even want to think about it.

Thanks to the Consumerist.com website for this information. I subscribe to their rss feed and frequently read their articles which are always interesting and informative. And you should also read their article called “Facebook’s New Terms Of Service: “We Can Do Anything We Want With Your Content. Forever.”

Enjoy but take care,
Susan Mellott

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