The Facebook TOS Furor - "Just Trust Us"

Facebook changed its terms of service, and there’s a furor rising up about it. Despite the subsequent Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s attempt at explanation to smooth over ruffled feathers and downplay Consumerist’s original post about this, if you read the TOS, it says that you grant a perpetual, fully-paid license to Facebook to all your content you share via Facebook or its partners, and even to your “likeness” and name. The wording is clear. Further, they make sure you, the poster, are responsible for the content.

My Reading of the New Facebook TOS

My reading of this language is that it unambiguously means, Facebook can use your content when and how they like, and, if you have uploaded something that is copyright someone else, you’re responsible for that content (and presumably any legal action against you for doing that). Nice. Here’s the section in question:


You are solely responsible for the User Content that you Post on or through the Facebook Service. 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. You represent and warrant that you have all rights and permissions to grant the foregoing licenses.

Other TOSs

By way of comparison, here’s links to PDFs of the terms of service for Twitter, Google Docs and Facebook at the time of this writing. The other guys make it pretty clear that you own your content.

Twitter TOS

Google TOS

Facebook TOS

Facebook has issued waffly post-furor statements that the TOS does not really mean that Facebook owns your content and that nothing bad will come of it. However if that is true, then there should be absolutely no problem for Facebook to change the language of the TOS to something that clearly states that I own my own content. Pretty simple. In the end, I think if the TOS does not change in short order to something reasonable, then it’s time to seriously considering cutting ties.