Jason's opinion on Facebook's "licensing" issue

Facebook has stirred up some sharp feelings because they’ve updated their terms of use as of the beginning of this month to say that anything you post is now “theirs” to keep or use, or sell – even if you cancel your account.

Bottom line . . . don’t put anything on the internet that you don’t want for public consumption. Your “friends” on facebook can download your pics onto their computers, can save your messages, etc . . .

Facebook is just stating the obvious. (you posted a pic on our server – you must not have a problem sharing it with the internet . . . ) I’m not going to cancel my account – I’m going to continue to be aware that anything I put up there can be used at anytime for public consumption . . .

Comments 1

  1. I'm a web application designer and I can vouch that granting an unlimited license to Facebook is the only reasonable way to approach user uploaded data, even though at first it may seem *evil* to non-techies.

    It's crazy what Facebook (or any other social media web application) would have to do to allow people to retain ownership of their data. People either have to accept a default license for any data they publish, or Facebook would have to set up some kind of license management system so that users could control how every photo, note, video, etc was handled. Either way to function as it is designed to Facebook can only support a very liberal usage license. Because if they granted stricter ownership, facebook would would then have to enforce the terms of the license, through some kind of DRM or whatever. This would cost a great deal to implement and maintain, and most users wouldn't benefit from it anyway.

    Beyond that, if a user removed their account, Facebook would have to run through their huge database and delete every photo, video, note, as well as any comment that other users may have added to those items. They would also have to remove the news feed references, or tag relationships to any of those items as well. This could clearly be quite disruptive for anyone who was a Facebook friend of that user, not to mention the immense load that would put on their servers and the potential for corrupt data and broken links.

    That's why there's not any real room for flexibility in Facebook's data license policy, and you are absolutely right, that people should only share what they're willing to give to the public.

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