An Explanation of Facebook’s Data Use Policy

Facebook Legal NewsWinter is coming in Westeros soon– and change is also a’coming on Facebook…very soon. Google unleashed a new online privacy policy earlier in the month, so it’s no surprise that their online sparring partner, Facebook, would follow suit.

A few weeks ago we dissected Google’s new policy, so it’s only fair that we give Facebook’s new terms the same treatment. Ready?

Precision Language Changes: It’s All in the Definition

Perhaps the most ostensibly major change in Facebook’s new privacy policy is that it’s no longer called a privacy policy. That’s right, the social media giant (with an admitted penchant for “openness”) decided to scrub their terms’ title of the p-word, and instead opted for the vaguer “Data Use Policy.” In other words, in simplified base terms, Facebook, technically, no longer has a privacy policy.

In addition to purging privacy from the disclosure “shingle,” the new policy also amends “hateful speech” to “hate speech” (a legal distinction, as the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits laws that restrict hate speech);  a “profile” is now an “account”; “share links” are now “social plugins”; instead of claiming that they “do” have systems that detect and filter certain suspicious click activity,” now they have systems that “attempt to detect and filter certain click activity (yep, suspicious is gone, which means they can attempt to detect and filter ALL click activity).

To see a fully tracked document of the changes, click here. Cynthia Boris did an excellent job of marking up the Facebook policy changes.

Sharing is Caring – And It Looks Like They Plan To Do A Lot Of It

Undoubtedly, the Facebook policy change that will have people throwing shade is the following:

“When you or others who can see your content and information use an application, your content and information is shared with the application. We require applications to respect your privacy, and your agreement with that application will control how the application can use, store, and transfer that content and information.”

In other words: if you’re friends use certain apps (ones that you may not want anything to do with) your information can be sent to the developer of said app. For example, let’s say your father is a fan of the NY Giants and you’re a NY Jets fan; if you’re connected to Pops through Facebook, and he downloads a Giants’s app, that app can also collect data from you.

Each app, of course, also has their own privacy rules. So, if you want to prevent your info from being passed from app to app to app, then you can (a) shut down your Facebook account, (b) learn how to read privacy policies quickly and get really good at writing mail-in opt-outs when necessary, or (c) shrug your shoulders and keep using Facebooks’ free service.

What Facebook Has The Right To Do With Your Intellectual Property

Apart from some tidying language, Facebook’s new Data Use Policy hasn’t altered the intellectual property rights section all that much.

That being said, it never hurts to review what rights an online platform claims to users’ copyrighted and trademarked material.

In the case of Facebook, if you post your own copyrighted material on their site, then you’re agreeing that Facebook has global, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free, sub-licensable rights to said work until you delete it or your account. However, if you  shared the protected work with others on Facebook, and they don’t delete it, then Facebook still retains the above rights even if you delete the work from your account.

So what rights does a “non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free, sub-licensable license” afford Facebook? It means you grant them the shared right to use your copyrighted material, without having to pay, with anyone in the world. In addition, it means that they can also grant others the right to use your material, so long as it can be found somewhere on their platform. (Something you may want to think about considering the company is going public very soon.)

Now, it should be noted that all the above is subject to your own privacy settings within the network. So, if you haven’t already, now is a good time to acquaint yourself with all the account settings.

Depending on your online privacy position, this all my sound scary; but at the end of the day, if our thirst for free platforms persists, then expect more and more online operations to move in this direction – after all, they, too, have to “bring home the bacon” somehow…because if they don’t, the economic winter we’ve been experiencing here in North America for the past 5 years may never end.

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