Like the country singer crooner Kenny Rogers sang, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, and know when to fold ’em”, knowing when something is working for your business and when it’s not is a good sign that you are sensitive to your business’ needs. You’ve got to know when you’re right…and when you’re wrong.
A concerned business knows when to admit when they’re wrong or when they’ve missed clues on an issue. A good business who’s “in-tune” with their customers knows when it’s time to revise their policies and procedures and listen to their customers. A good business knows when and how to make things right, or to at least make an effort in the right direction towards satisfying their customers. So it is with Facebook and the recent move they made that wasn’t very popular with their customers.
Essentially, the original Facebook’s Terms of Service stated that when you close an account with them that any rights that they claimed to the original content that you uploaded to their site would expire. In other words, the rights for them to use your content for their purposes would expire. This meant that once you left them, your content, articles, photos, etc. would cease to be material that they could further use on their site. Now, with the new and revised Terms of Service with Facebook, they have the right to do whatever they choose to with you old content. They could keep it, delete it, sell it, sublicense it or capitalize on it in any way that they deem appropriate.
What has the Facebook users in such an uproar about this are the right’s that Facebook is retaining over their content and how they (Facebook) can use the content to further its own business objectives. But what about the user’s objectives? What about what the user wants? The Facebook team clearly re-wrote the Terms of Service as a standard for their own business model and not the user’s mission:
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.
As an avid Facebook user myself, I take pause with this issue. As an internet user and a social networker, I (along with a lot of my colleagues) use sites like Facebook to connect with others that are like-minded and share information that will help our businesses. The information that I put on my wall that I share within my network help in a myriad of ways. I can share information that I gave in one of my speaking seminars. I can post excerpts from my new ebook that I have created. I can also upload photos of my business travels of famous speakers, famous speaking venues or presentation halls. The glitch in what Facebook proposes to do with that information is where the issue is. Even after I leave Facebook (will I ever?), they will retain the rights to any and all content that I once had on my sight. Period. Is that right? Should they ethically retain those rights? Should this even be an issue for users to concern themselves with?
I personally think that whatever is placed in a public forum like Facebook, MySpace or Twitter is fair game. In other words, it’s up for grabs. After all, it is someone else’s playground and you have to play by the rules. Don’t like the rules? That’s fine too. Get your toys and go to your own playground. If you have information that you’d like to share that’s evergreen, comprehensive and of mass appeal, put it on your own site or blog and simply link to it from your Facebook site. Now I know this may be a gray area as well, but Facebook only retains the rights on their website, not on yours. Even through shared links or sites, the actual content is yours.
Right now Facebook is reconsidering their terms and how it will affect their users. Stay tuned to see what happens and how far things go with Facebook. In the meantime, I think I’ll post a link from my Facebook page to this article. I may as well capitalize on it while I can too!
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