Facebook acts like a giant convention center where people meet for private and semi-private interactions. We exchange things that matter to us with particular groups of people. In support of that exchange, Facebook provides friendly rooms where, if we have permission, we can ooh and ah over each other’s photos, artistic efforts, political doings and family events. In terms of cyber-relationships, it’s a one-stop-shop or very like hosting an open house for your friends and their invitees.
As a convention center, Facebook provides space and services. However, it has broadened the concept of the host relationship to include joint ownership and control over the distribution rights of the personal thoughts and “objects” we share within its walls. For instance, Facebook can alter and distribute your images for profit/promotion.
Facebook says its rationale is based on user privacy settings. If the owner of a photo displays it using the Facebook Photo application, by extension, the owner is giving Facebook the same distribution rights as the owner retains.
Imagine speaking at a family or class reunion and discovering that the hosting hotel has the perpetual right to distribute what you say or the items you display.
Imagine showing your artwork in Central Park to a million strangers and having the City of New York lay claim to the distribution rights of that work.
1. You own your information. Facebook does not. This includes your photos and all other content.
2. Facebook doesn’t claim rights to any of your photos or other content. We need a license in order to help you share information with your friends, but we don’t claim to own your information.
3. We won’t use the information you share on Facebook for anything you haven’t asked us to. We realize our current terms are too broad here and they make it seem like we might share information in ways you don’t want, but this isn’t what we’re doing.
4. We will not share your information with anyone if you deactivate your account. If you’ve already sent a friend a message, they’ll still have that message. However, when you deactivate your account, all of your photos and other content are removed.
5. We apologize for the confusion around these issues. We never intended to claim ownership over people’s content even though that’s what it seems like to many people. This was a mistake and we apologize for the confusion.
Further, Barry Schnitt, a Facebook spokesperson said, “We certainly did not — and did not intend — to create any new right or interest for Facebook in users’ data by issuing the new terms.” (Italics added for emphasis.) (See: NY Times “Wrap-up”)
If you know of a “community” platform that doesn’t lay claim to distribution rights, please tell us.