Facebook Still Owns Your Photos
Always has, always will.
And if they can’t make money the old fashioned way (ad revenue) then they have the possibility of selling all your personal stuff to the highest bidder. Admittedly, that is something they haven’t ever done in the history of the company, but it is still standard legalese in the “Terms of Service” or TOS agreement.
When you signed up for Facebook, you agreed to Facebook’s Terms of Service (ToS). These are the rules you agree to play by so long as you use Facebook, period. They’re Facebook’s rules. Odds are you didn’t bother reading the ToS before you signed up, because Facebook was new and exciting and who ever reads that stuff anyway? No one does.
Half a decade or so later, we’re still bound by those rules—and that means that, despite all the hoaxes floating around today that might tell you otherwise, Facebook owns the pictures and videos you share. And you can’t opt out, ever, because you agreed to this:
(I’ll bold the important parts)
Your Content and Information
You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings. In addition:
For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.
When you delete IP content, it is deleted in a manner similar to emptying the recycle bin on a computer. However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time (but will not be available to others).
In short: if you upload a photo, Facebook is 100%, completely allowed to use it (or sell it) until you delete that photo or delete your account. This isn’t to say that it does any of this stuff—and in fact Facebook is adamant that it does not—just reserving the right to at some point in the future.
So the question remains for Facebook: If you say that you are never going to sell the photos people put up on Facebook, why do you still legally reserve the right to do so at “some point in the future.”
Just another example of the biggest joke on the Internet remaining the Facebook privacy agreement.
UPDATE: Apparently the increase in interest in the Facebook TOS is due to an Internet meme (on Facebook natch) where folks would post a long, legal-sound diatribe believing that by doing so, they were making themselves exempt from the TOS.
(What fools these mortals be…)
Anyway, to highlight said stupidity, the gang at CollegeHumor.com did a sketch on it. Enjoy.