One of the biggest lies told in the 21st century is “I have read and agree to the terms and conditions” and one of the problems with this is that without reading these incredibly long and tedious documents, we can’t be sure that the website or app or program that we are signing up for isn’t using our personal data without notifying us.
Let’s take Facebook for example.I know everyone’s heard the stories about how they own everybody’s photos and posts and basically everything on the website, but there are always the sceptics that say that these stories are just rumours and that they should be dismissed. It’s just a case of who you choose to believe when it comes to these sorts of things.
Considering I use Facebook pretty much daily in order to keep contact with home, I decided to have a look and see if I could find exactly what it is that Facebook does or doesn’t own. After trawling through the terms and conditions pages for a while I found the section entitled ‘Statement of Rights and Responsibilities‘, in which Section 2 refers to sharing content and information. This section states that “you own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings.”
The first point, shown below, says that although the user owns the photos, said user actually gives Facebook permission to use any intellectual property that you post to the website, or to any other site that is connected to or owned by Facebook; just by signing up.
For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.
The idea that Facebook has the ability to use and distribute photos of me from when I was younger is distressing because there are some truly awful photos of me kicking around from a few years ago – you don’t want to see them, trust me.
Another thing that most people tend to know about is the idea of tailored ads and how these ads show up all over your Facebook timeline, and are supposedly related to your interests (even though mine never seem to be).
Facebook is able to suggest these posts and adverts to you through analysing your posts, likes, comments and even your messages to friends to find out what your interests are to provide targeted ads. If you’re reading this thinking that it’s completely abhorrent and that you want no part in this, then you’d better have a read of Facebook’s Data Policy and their terms of conditions; I think you’ll find that by agreeing to sign up, you agreed for them to do this.