Facebook Terms of Service Translated by Heather Bussing

Facebook gets to do whatever it wants with your information and data, including making boatloads of money from your time, content, and relationships.

I know you just checked “agree” when you signed up for Facebook. You didn’t read the “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities,” or the “Data Use Policy.”  And if you think you know how visible your posts are and to whom, it’s probably wrong. In fact, Facebook will be different between the time I wrote this and the time you read it. They roll out new code twice a day. “(T)here are hundreds of engineers working on thousands of changes every week.

The legal stuff doesn’t change that often. But it’s still worth understanding. So here are some of the terms you should know about and what they mean.

1. What you agreed to and how that changes.

 “By using Faceook, you agree to this Statement (of Rights and Responsibilities), as updated from time to time in accordance with Section 14 below.” 

What it means:  By signing up, and then every time you use the site, you are agreeing to everything in the Statement, as well as all the other terms that you have to click multiple links to find. And Facebook can change it any time they want.

After some hullaballoo, Facebook now gives either 3 or 7 day notice about some of its changes. If 7,000 people comment on the change, then they will propose alternatives and take a vote. Of course, they can change it again as soon as people get bored and stop commenting.

1.  Privacy and Use of Your Data

“Your privacy is very important to us. We designed our Data Use Policy to make important disclosures about how you can use Facebook to share with others and how we collect and can use your content and information.”

What it means: Your privacy is important unless Facebook can make money from your information. They also give it to the government, your employer, or anybody else with a subpoena, or contract, or license, or big fat check.

“We use the information we receive about you in connection with the services and features we provide to you and other users like your friends, our partners, the advertisers . . . and the developers that build the games, applications and websites you use.

What it means: Facebook collects everything it can including your location data, the meta data on your photographs, who you tag, and who your friends are, so it can help its advertisers sell you stuff and make money. But they try to make it fun for you too, because if you leave, they’re screwed.

2.   Who Owns Your Stuff

“You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings.”  “(Y)ou specifically give us . . . a non-exclusive, transferable, sublicensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post.”

What it Means:  You own your stuff but you give Facebook unlimited rights to use it, sell it, give it away, and do whatever they want with it unless you delete your account. Even if you delete your account, they still get to use it if you shared it with anyone or if back up copies exist. And back up copies always exist. They may not be visible to others, but FB will continue to use the information.

3.  Termination

“If you violate the letter or spirit of this Statement, or otherwise create risk or possible legal exposure for us, we can stop providing all or part of Facebook to you.”

What it Means: FB can kick you out any time, for any reason, and it doesn’t have to be a particularly good reason either.

4.  Who Pays If There’s a Problem

“If anyone brings a claim against us related to your actions, content or information on Facebook, you will indemnify and hold us harmless from and against all damages, losses, and expenses of any kind (including reasonable legal fees and costs related to such claim).”

What if Means: If FB gets sued, or gets in any trouble at all that has to do with your use of Facebook, they can make you pay for their lawyers, the lawsuit, everything else and probably some other stuff. So if you hurt someone’s feelings and they sue Facebook, you are the one on the hook. And you are dangling there by yourself.

Bottom Line:

Everything you do on Facebook is public. You are the only one responsible for it. And Facebook gets to do whatever it wants with your information and data, including making boatloads of money from your time, content, and relationships.

Is it enforceable? Most of it is. The indemnity parts may not be, but it would be expensive to find out.

Now, “What’s on your mind?”

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