Who owns the statuses? Who controls the pictures on your facebook account? Better yet, who controls this post? According to Facebook, they do. Facebook, in the latest turn of the fuzzy concept of “ownership” and “licenses” on a social networking site, made everybody give a collective “huh?” Now we’re all trying to figure out — who controls what, exactly?
It’s not uncommon for sites offering hosting for user-generated content to reserve some rights to use the material for promotional considerations. Our host (our lovely, great and gracious hosts), WordPress, has the same deal in their TOS. For material you put up on their servers, you expect it. But, when we want that licensing right to cease we do the obvious thing — delete that shit.
This isn’t a big deal for us, getting used, in fact we’re excited when we get linked to, our stuff gets quoted (with the proper attribution), or people leave us a comment. Honestly, we get 2 hits day and we love when people humor us like they care. We’ve even had spam bots lift our posts to generate traffic to their sites, but they linked here so we were okay with it. Use us, abuse us, please.
We still like having the security that once we delete our stuff our gracious hosts can’t use it anymore. The illusion of control is better than nothing. Now Facebook decided to challenge our little illusion, and we’re a little bit confused.
In the new Facebook TOS, they hold on to their licenses even once you removed the content. Even if you close your account. To make us even more confused, they reserve licensing rights for sites that post a Facebook share link (like our share this button at the bottom, you know, in case you wanted to help us out). According to Facebook, once we ask for some shameless self-promotion, they can do whatever they want.
In some twisted way, everyone likes to think their content outranks and outwits their contemporaries. Your editors harbor delusions that our stuff is somewhat funny and insightful. It’s a survival mechanism. If we didn’t, we’d stop writing (like we did for the past 2-3 weeks, but that was due to laziness). On the same token, we like to say who can use our stuff and to what capacity. We’re a bit territorial, and we seriously doubt they’ll ever use any of our content, so why even include the clause? Even if we never invoke our right, we still like having it around. It’s the same idea as owning an assault rifle, SUV, or a sports car – you’re compensating for something, so you need to remind yourself that you still got it.
We’re squarely in the “what the hell is Facebook trying to pull?” category. We do appreciate the idea that, seemingly overnight, Facebook has moved from potential scourge of humanity with to many spammy apps to an epic battleground between artists and Corporate America. Now we have something else to direct our ironies towards.
Editor’s Note: Apparently we here at Partially Bigoted Zealots have more influence then we give ourselves credit for (and trust us, we give ourselves a lot of credit), because as of…sometime after this was posted, they responded with this notification on the Facebook Home Page.
If you want to share your thoughts on what should be in the new terms, check out our group Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.”
We’ll keep you updated on the latest of these mind-numbingly gripping events! Stay tuned to Partial Bigots!