The recent Facebook mess has caused quite a stir around the social networking world.
If you have yet to hear about the uproar, it seems Facebook changed its Terms of Services recently and some felt that the way it was worded gave Facebook the right to retain all rights of anything posted by its 175 million members, even after they had stopped using the popular social networking site.
This means if I post pictures of my family, or write a message to a friend, and then two years later terminate my membership, Facebook would still have the right to my content.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that he did not intend for the new terms of services to be written this way and the company has since ended the new terms of service and agreed to rewrite them so they are more clear. The company goes on to say that they don’t want to own your content or graphics or do anything with them.
That’s all well and fine, but the crux of the matter is this: Once you put your content out on the Web, who is to say it will ever be solely yours again? I can pretty much tell you it won’t.
We all know how easy it is to copy what a person has written.
We also know how easy it is to steal photographs off of Web sites. Even if you wouldn’t do this because of copyright laws, you could, for the most part, and if you don’t know how you could easily figure out how to do so with just a few specific words and a search engine.
Truth is, what we post is not private. Anyone can find it, anyone can copy it, and then anyone can do whatever anyone wants to with it.
So even if you terminate your service, if someone has taken your words and graphics away from the site prior to you ending the account, they are gone and in someone else’s hands.
The Internet is a whole new ballgame when it comes to privacy. For those of us who blog or write regularly, for those who go to message boards and post pictures or graphics or content, there really is no security that our words and pictures will not be stolen and/or used without our knowledge or permission.
So even if Facebook does change its wording again, and even if they do not mean that they will own someone’s content and graphics, do you really own what you wind up posting online? When you post something, do you really expect that it will not be read and/or copied, or do you feel like your privacy is indeed in tact in most online situations?
I’m guessing that as time goes on and we continue to develop how we use the Internet, new laws will be passed and companies and individuals will attempt to protect the stuff they put up online.
But how successful will they be?
How can you monitor something once it is ‘out there’?