TJ Kelly

Facebook doesn’t own my digital lifestream.

Update 2/26/15: As luck would have it, this post is the subject of some unlikely attention lately. See how Google accidentally gave me 300 backlinks thanks to this post.


Facebook doesn’t own my digital lifestream. But, according to some recent changes to their Terms of Service, they claim that they do.

Mashable writes “The Consumerist has noticed a seemingly slight but very important (and disturbing) change in Facebook’s terms of service, regarding user-generated content…in short, all of the content you’ve ever uploaded on Facebook can be used, modified or even sublicensed by Facebook in every possible way – even if you quit the service.”

This is alarming news. The right to use and sell the name, image, and likeness of users is one sought after and reached for by many companies, but most of them are dissuaded by user backlash.

Facebook now claims that right. And what’s most alarming to me is that these new terms are, apparently, retroactive and were not publicized before being implemented.


The Consumerist and others wrote about Facebook’s response, in which they say “the license only allows us to use the info ‘in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof.’ Users generally expect and understand this behavior as it has been a common practice for web services since the advent of webmail.”

I’m not sure how true that “users expect this” statement is. But either way, I’m still a little nervous.

This is exactly the kind of “big brother” stunt people worry about the NSA pulling, usually in conjunction with Google, et al.

But what can we do? Even deleting your profile won’t save you this time.

Remember when Facebook announced their “Beacon” platform, promising to publish information about users’ activity on other sites around the web? Privacy advocates—not to mention users—went nuts, and Facebook eventually backed down.

Maybe that should happen again. Who’s for it? Mini Facebook-revolution anyone?


Afterthought: Another author recently wrote about this issue and asked others to “spread the word and educate.” And, while doing so, “include the phrase ‘Facebook doesn’t own my Digital Lifestream‘ perhaps as a means of finding these posts.” You heard the man. Get to it.


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