Facebook has responded to the concern engendered by the new Facebook Terms of Service with a post by none other than Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg himself. In his comments, Zuckerberg tries to allay the fears of Facebook users by saying that even though the new Facebook TOS says that Facebook can use all user-generated content however they want, and forever, they wouldn’t really do so. Unfortunately, that doesn’t cut it.
In his post, Zuckerberg says:
…Our philosophy is that people own their information and control who they share it with. When a person shares information on Facebook, they first need to grant Facebook a license to use that information so that we can show it to the other people they’ve asked us to share it with. Without this license, we couldn’t help people share that information.
In reality, we wouldn’t share your information in a way you wouldn’t want. …
That’s nice, and exactly what Facebook users probably want to hear.
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But the reality is that regardless of what Zuckerberg says in a Facebook post, the Facebook TOS is what you are agreeing to, and that says that Facebook can use your stuff forever, however they want. If a user were to bring a lawsuit against Facebook for, say, using their photo in a Facebook television or print ad, Facebook would likely win based on the language in their TOS, despite Zuckerberg’s reassurances to the contrary. (We hasten to add that we have no doubt that Mark Zuckerberg means what he says, and that he is an honorable person – but the TOS is the contractual agreement between Facebook and their users – what someone unilaterally says, without it forming a contract with the other parties, is not legally binding).
Zuckerberg also says that “Over time we will continue to clarify our positions and make the terms simpler,” and we look forward to that.
We have even offered to assist Facebook in this effort – I have personally written to Mark the following, and hope they may take us up on the offer:
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This is all well and good, and thank you for clarifying your position. However, as your TOS currently reads, you *do* own all rights to any user-generated content, in perpetuity. More concerning is the language which allows you to not only have a free license to use the material *forever*, but which also allows you to create derivative works, and to profit from those works with no recourse for the user.
As such, we are advising people to not post *anything* to Facebook that they are not willing to *give* you, with no strings attached, to use however you like.
If you would like some assistance in rewording your TOS to make it less onerous, please don’t hesitate to ask – I’d be happy to help (at no charge).
Anne P. Mitchell, Esq
Institute for Social Internet Public Policy
Member, Cal. Bar Cyberspace Law Committee
Professor of Law, Lincoln Law School of SJ”
You can read Mark Zuckerberg’s full comments here.
No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free? Thank you!
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