As a relative newcomer to Facebook, I’m amazed at how quickly people from my past have appeared back on my radar, with spouses and kids and daily lives shared in pictures and video. It’s really incredible how well the service has their search algorithms tuned to the different networks each user belongs to–schools, employers, family, geography; it’s like a mainline fix of “Where Are They Now” direct to the cerebral cortex.
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.
What that means, in a nutshell, is that the picture of your puppy you posted two months ago could be used in a commercial for Facebook or resold to anyone they choose. And, if you’ve logged into your account since February 4th, according to the language in their TOS, you’ve accepted these terms, even if you never read them.
As a longtime web citizen and onetime hosting provider, I learned early on only to upload things I don’t mind sharing with the world–because once it’s on the web, it’s in the public domain forever. It’s pretty common knowledge that employers use Google, MySpace, and Facebook to vet their prospective employees, so I figure people have probably gotten a little smarter about sharing incriminating pictures these days (or maybe not). I’d also guess that most people post pictures and video to the web with little or no regard to how it could be reused by someone else, and even if it was, chances are, they wouldn’t care.
But that’s not my point here. What’s most disturbing about this story is the way it was handled by the company itself. These days, it’s pretty standard boilerplate in any online TOC to say something like
It’s difficult terrain to navigate and we’re going to make some missteps, but as the leading service for sharing information we take these issues and our responsibility to help resolve them very seriously.
So, there you have it. In the meantime, be careful what you share with the internets.