Who Owns Your Content On Facebook?

Banned by Facebook

When you go to the bank to rent out a security, they will inform you of their policy. They will also ensure you that if they want to terminate your contract at any point, they will first inform you of the reason they are terminating your contract for, they will offer you a respite and in certain cases some options for corrective actions, and they would always allow you to retrieve all of your personal effects that you have with their business. So if, for instance, I placed a photo album in my security deposit box, I will be able to retrieve it in case of termination so why is that not the case with Facebook?

There is a lot of talk about the evolving usage of social media, and especially about how their usage policy might be incompatible, harsh and sometimes completely biased in the way that it views the users of the service devoid of their circumstances. In the case of the protests in the Middle East and North Africa, there are several people that had their accounts deleted mainly because they didn’t register with their birth name. You need to look no further than the comments on our post about activating disabled Facebook profiles to learn how draconian the Facebook termination policy is.

But today, I don’t want to discuss how fair or unfair the policy is, what I do want to talk about is the way that Facebook treats the content its users place on the website. The popularity of Facebook comes from the people and the content that they place on the website. The majority of  Facebook users are under the false impression that they own the content on their Facebook profiles when that is not the case at all.

For example, when you upload your photos to Facebook, you are creating content on the site and if they disable your account, you have no way of accessing content that you own on there. Given that you own this content, denying you from accessing it is akin to a bank confiscated the content of your security deposit box.

What is even more ludicrous is that you are not able to remove content off of your Facebook account. To this day, even after various people have written and complained about the issue, people can still find images deleted 2-3 years ago still offered through Facebook’s content delivery network and anyone who has a direct link can access it (problem verified as off March 28th). As a matter of fact, anyone can share any “private” photos on Facebook if they have this direct link, regardless of any privacy settings that you may have on the photo which is another violation of your right to control how your content is shared.

Therefore, if Facebook is in no hurry to delete your content they should be able to accommodate the calls to allow those who have their accounts disabled to retrieve their content before they are completely denied access. That would be the fair thing to do to thousands of people who lost their personal photo albums because they have trusted Facebook and uploaded their photos there only to find later on that their accounts have been disabled and they have lost the only copies that they have had of those precious moments. For the time being, I encourage everyone to back up their Facebook account(s) because you’ll never know when the Facebook police will decide to axe your account.

Who is the owner of the content on Facebook? How do you think Facebook should treat disabled users? Do they have any rights? Share with us your thoughts and comments in the section below.

Comments and Reactions

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com Amer Kawar

    That’s actually an important issue. Facebook is now the world’s mainstream social networking site, they need to have better regulations when it comes to a user’s digital belongings.

  • http://twitter.com/CaterersGuild Intl.Caterer’s Guild

    This is not something I had ever thought about and it is a very important point. I am not one who encourages ‘scare-mongering’ but I do believe this information should be shared with other facebook users, both business and personal users.

    Thanks for informing me of this.

  • http://blog.thoughtpick.com/ Beiruta

    I have been considering deactivating my account for a while now. This is just the push I needed! However, I feel owned by Facebook since I use it for work and for my private blog and it seems impossible for me to give it up!

  • http://adsenseactive.com/ web marketing

    I totally agree with you.

  • Eric

    Copyright is owned by who ever created it- so Facebook is crashing the law.Book copyright, arts,music etc. are protected by law.Nerds cannot make their own laws.

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