Everything that’s mine is Facebook’s

Facebook has altered its terms of service and the wording indicates that it will now own all of the content people post – in perpetuity. The change has generated a lot of disgruntled comments on Twitter and in the blogosphere here and here. And it’s easy to understand why.

I’m not a big Facebook user but I think that signing away all rights to your ‘friends’, photos, ideas, thoughts and intellectual property is probably not a smart idea. That said, I won’t be cancelling my account anytime soon and I’m sure many people will feel the same.

After all, Facebook is a wonderful platform to connect with people, chat with them, share moments of your life.

Mark Zuckerberg defends his position on the Facebook blog. Trust us, he says. We’re good people. And I have no reason to believe otherwise, except for the fact that as a CEO he needs to protect his company’s rights.

But, as individuals, we have our rights to think about, too.

I wonder about the ramifications for businesses and organizations with FB groups which have their own sets of copyright and intellectual property rules (not to mention lawyers) to contend with. That should make for a good long legal debate.

I can’t begin to speculate on the answer.

But it seems to me there’s a difference between sharing and a giveaway. And, however, mundane, I don’t want my life’s minutiae assigned to someone else (that sounds a bit like an Albert Brooks comedy plot).

To me, this IP grab is like visiting a store and having the retailer ask you to hand over all your personal belongings when you leave.

It will be interesting to watch how Facebook deals with the fallout, what the outcome will be and how it will affect all of us in the long run.

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8 thoughts on “Everything that’s mine is Facebook’s

  1. I so want to leave an insightful, carefully thought-out reaction to Facebook’s revised TOS, but all I can come up with, Martin, is that I just can’t think about it. Really, for me and for many, many, many users, it’s like having to think about breaking up with a partner we still love, with whom we still enjoy a good relationship. I just hope I never have cause to regret the intimacy between Facebook and me.

  2. Of course now I feel like a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who has signed a prenup that leaves her with nothing should the relationship sour. Sheesh.

  3. Hi Martin – I’ll have to look into this a bit more but one suggestion I’ve heard is to alter what you post – trim, crop or otherwise alter a photo – edit a song or video clip down. The “master” take is still entirely yours since you did not post that. Sounds right but you never know when or if lawyers get into something like that. Further, companies will have some ‘splainin to do around matching Facebook’s claim vs. their own claim. Ironically, the employee also has no claim on their own contributions (generally to the company) either.

  4. Our overly litigious society has made everything so complicated now. As someone who likes to keep my personal life private, I’m not a big fan of Facebook. But, it occurs to me that this action is a little like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

  5. Thanks to all of you for your comments. The whole ‘rights grab’ seems a bit surprising. I’m looking forward to seeing FB’s ultimate response and, depending what it is, if there’s any fallout.

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