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Who owns your data? Facebook does of course. And now forever!

As consumerist noticed, Facebook changed their TOS to make it even more worse as it even was. Back then it said:

You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof.

So any content you upload to facebook is theirs anyway, they can use it whereever they want for whatever they want. This is not new though.

What’s new is that they removed this paragraph in their version from Feb 4th:

You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content


So even if you remove your data from facebook it’s still „their“ data. Additionally I wonder if they don’t need to notice you that they have changed their TOS.

And this regulation even survives if you „terminate“ your use of Facebook, whatever „terminate“ means (or is there a way to remove your account in the meanwhile, I mean completely with all your data? But the clause above states clearly that data is not deleted completely anyway).

How to fight this?

The problem is that most people are not aware of this issue. They might not even think about this until they have a problem. But then it’s too late.

But it’s the user’s data we are talking about and sites like Facebook live from this data, it’s their bread and butter and so (naturally?) they try to own as much of it as they can.

But because it’s their bread and butter users can also demand to handle this issue otherwise (and Facebook is of course not the only site with doubtful TOS).

If you want to help you might want to join the EULA&TOS Taskforce of the DataPortability Project where we try come up with easy to understand questions you can ask your social networking site, like „will my data be deleted when I leave?“, „will my data be shared with 3rd parties?“ and so on.

The idea is similar to the Creative Commons folks where there are easy to recognize icons which describe what you can or cannot do with some publication. We want something similar but for your data.

Having such a tool at hand will make it easier for consumers to understand what the problems are about and they have something to ask for.

For more information visit the Taskforce homepage and join the DataPortability discussion. The next phone conference will be wednesday, 25th Feb, 2000 UTC.

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