Facebook Legalities – Everything You Need To Know

facebook legalities

At the beginning of 2013 it was announced that Facebook now has over a billion users globally. Now, more than ever, it is crucial to understand the implications and legalities of what you share on the world’s biggest social network.

Who owns the stuff I share?

The content you share, like photos and videos, are covered by intellectual property rights. By sharing your stuff, you grant Facebook the right to display your content on their website. They do not own it. This license ends when you delete your content. However, if your content is reshared, a new license is granted by the person that shares it. In short, you own what you share, until someone reshares it.

Who sees it?

Generally, whenever you share anything on Facebook, you’re given five privacy options before you post your content. You choose between ‘Public’, ‘Friends of Friends’, ‘Friends’, ‘Only Me’ or ‘Custom.’ ‘Public’ means anybody can see your content, with or without a Facebook account. ‘Friends’, ‘Friends of Friends’ and ‘Only Me’ are of course self-explanatory. If you want to be scrupulous about what is seen and not seen, checking ‘Custom’ will enable you to individually select which of your friends are able to see the content you share.

Who can search for me?

In your privacy settings, you can choose who is able to look you up on the internet. Again, you are given most of the same options mentioned above; ‘Friends’, ‘Friends of Friends’ and ‘Everyone’. If you’re giving out your e-mail address at work and getting people to add you, choosing just ‘Friends’ in your privacy setting means those people won’t be able to find you. If you don’t want everyone to see your stuff but you still want people to be able to find you, it is best to choose ‘Everyone’ in this instance and limit what parts of the profile you share.

[Recommended read: How to Keep Your Online Privacy Safe]

When I delete things, are they gone forever?

On Facebook and sites elsewhere this is one of the most contentious areas of the internet. According to Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, when you delete anything it is, “deleted in a manner similar to emptying the recycle bin on a computer.” Content may “persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time (but will not be available to others).” While this may be true, anything you’ve ever posted could have easily been downloaded or copied by anyone else that has access to your profile.

[Recommended read: Downloading Things from the Internet – Legal or Illegal?]

What about individually tailored advertisements?

Again this is something you may want to change in your privacy settings. By default, most of the information on your profile will be accessible to advertisers who want to deliver individually tailored advertisements. You even give Facebook permission to “use your name and profile picture in connection with that content.” If John Smith decides to ‘like’ a brand or company on Facebook, a news story will appear saying “John Smith likes Turnpipe Clothing.” If you don’t want this, check your privacy settings.

[Read also: Facebook is Monetizing Anything and Everything]

What can Facebook do?

Facebook can remove any content that “infringes or violates someone else’s rights or otherwise violates the law.” This includes but is not limited to cases where content implies bullying, harassment, hate speech, pornography or when users upload viruses, login information and other sensitive material. Facebook users are able to both flag up any content that does this and appeal for any content that they believe has been mistakenly removed by Facebook.

With more content shared than ever before, there are a lot of considerations to think about before uploading anything onto Facebook. But Facebook, to their credit, have implemented an efficient and easy to understand privacy settings system which users have complete control over. For the safest possible experience understand this privacy settings system in full before deciding to post anything on Facebook.

[Read also: 10 Facebook Tips That You Should Know!]


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