Facebook Security – Do I own what I write?!

I just looked into Intellectual property concerns regarding Facebook. Before I link posts or or Blog feed there, I want to know: Do I own what I write?

You’d think that it would be obvious that if you write something and post it somewhere, you own it. But it’s not so clear. Many of the sites at least claim a license to “use and display that content” (per Facebook FAQ). Others may actually attempt to assume ownership! Nevertheless, whatever the specific policy, these sites are not charities. They will seek to make some profit, at least by using the attraction presented by your material and that of others to draw more eyes to hosted ads.

Digging deeper in the specific case of Facebook, their “Terms” as of May 1, 2009 at least recognize your ownership of what you post, though warning of the risk that once it’s out of the bag, others may keep copies, etc. and Facebook is not responsible for this.
1. 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 (except to the extent your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it).

I do appreciate that they cede rights once I delete it!

Also of interest are Facebook’s Privacy policies. Per their warnings, you may want to pay attention to your privacy settings.

Most of Facebook’s information about Intellectual Property and Privacy seems to focus on protecting them from liability for anything a user may choose to do, such as posting copyrighted materials or harassing another user. … It make me wonder if the bill collectors abusing the system might be in violation of Facebook’s policies! Of course, if the sleazeball debt collector “chick” were using her real name it might be legit. But posting anything of questionable veracity or with intent to harass is certainly a violation — of Facebook’s policy as well as of law! There might be some protection in that, though legal recourse could be expensive.

Of course, one needs to keep aware of what would changes might occur in Facebook policies should they be acquired.

Security provisions for Facebook “Applications” might also be something to look out for. Check those privacy settings and terms. It still seems to me that the Facebook interface is a bit kludgy with regard to finding and controlling all of these settings. It is worth a little time to explore it if you intend to make much use of Facebook.