You may have been noticing a particular status update making the rounds on Facebook. It’s a disclaimer that asserts the poster’s copyright and privacy rights, and it makes it seem like it’s as easy as copy/paste to protect yourself from anything you failed to catch in the Terms and Conditions you agreed to upon signing up for Facebook.
Before you can use Facebook, you accept the site’s legal terms when you accept the Terms and Conditions. In the same way that you can’t skip out on a lease by declaring that you don’t like the landlord, you can’t alter your acceptance of that agreement.
However, that doesn’t mean you aren’t protected – that same contract you signed actually protects your intellectual property.
“We have noticed some statements that suggest otherwise and we wanted to take a moment to remind you of the facts — when you post things like photos to Facebook, we do not own them. Under our terms , you grant Facebook permission to use, distribute, and share the things you post, subject to the terms and applicable privacy settings, ” said Facebook Spokesman Andrew Noyes in a statement.
To parse that, Facebook can share your content but won’t sell it. You own that intellectual property, but you have waived your right to be the sole distributer. Facebook could use your image in an advertisement – and you wouldn’t get royalties for it – but they can’t sell you image to a stock photo company or another third party.
If the concept of Facebook, a corporation, or a stranger distributing your content leaves a bad taste in your mouth, now might be a good time to mull over whether Social Media is a good fit for you. Websites such as Tumblr and Reddit swap images and interesting stories, usually without attribution. Think back – has every image you’ve linked to been given a proper attribution? Although plagiarism and stealing the credit for another’s work is still (and will always be) considered absolutely abhorrent, disseminating content with or without attribution is de rigeur.
But be very aware – your intellectual property might be safe, but all your data protection goes out the window with third party apps.
You know that little authorization song and dance you have to go through whenever you want to use an app on your Facebook profile? There’s some pretty interesting stuff you can be agreeing to when you give it the go ahead.
Apps have been caught doing unsavories such as:
- Selling your information to advertising companies
- Accessing not only your non-public data, but the data of your friends
- Gleaning your location data with no in-place privacy settings
Don’t use Apps? ‘Liking’ can still put you in an uncomfortable situation.
Amazon uses Facebook users images and endorsements in targeted ads, as do most other companies that have a presence on Facebook. By ‘liking’ Amazon, 1-800-Flowers, Target, and the like, you give them permission to use your image and any reviews you post as an advertisement.
So what can you do to protect your data?
- Be wary and selective of what apps you allow to access your data
- Consider using a browser extension such as PrivacyChoice to see cracks in your privacy settings
- Be choosy in what companies you like and be professional in any review you leave online
And if you don’t agree with Facebook’s policies, you have two options – don’t sign up, or lobby for change on Facebook’s Site Governance page.