Beware Facebook's New Terms Of Service - InformationWeek

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07:05 PM
Fredric Paul
Fredric Paul

Beware Facebook's New Terms Of Service

Businesses using Facebook for marketing or other purposes need to be aware of a change to the service's Terms of Service -- basically, they own anything you put up there, even if you close your account.

Businesses using Facebook for marketing or other purposes need to be aware of a change to the service's Terms of Service -- basically, they own anything you put up there, even if you close your account.If you're just posting personal pictures of your latest fishing trip or nightclub outing, the only thing you risk is embarassment. But if you're using it for business purposes, the new Facebook Terms Of Service may make you think twice about posting anything substantive.

Before this latest change, when you closed your account, Facebook released any rights it claimed to your content. Not any more:

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.

The difference is that the TOS no longer includes the following lines:

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.

This seems to mean that Facebook can even sublicense your content -- in perpetuity -- without you having any say in the matter. Closing your account doesn't make any difference.

Apparently, your privacy settings do make a difference, though. They can protect things you've chosen to keep out of public view, but really, what point is marketing on Facebook if people can't see your stuff?

The changes are already spawning a backlash, on Twitter and of course on Facebook itself:

FACEBOOK OWNS YOU: Protest the New Changes to the TOS!

People Against the new Terms of Service (TOS)

Those against Facebook's new TOS!

On the other hand, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg is using his blog--On Facebook, People Own and Control Their Information --to say there's really nothing to worry about: "In reality, we wouldn't share your information in a way you wouldn't want."

Is this a tempest in a teapot? Maybe. I don't think this changes the fact that Facebook can be a powerful and inexpensive way connect with the public and promote your company and brands. But it should be a reminder to take a long, close, look at anything your company posts to any social network, not just Facebook. Once these things hit the wild, they've fundamentally no longer under your contol, and you have to be prepared to live with the consequences.

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