Facebook Membership May Be Forever
Once a Facebook member, always a member.
The Consumerist blog noticed Sunday that the social-networking giant had quietly made a change to its user Terms of Service (TOS) on Feb. 4.
Facebook now declares that it has a perpetual license to use anything you post to your own Facebook page — even if you terminate your account.
Here's the licensing part of the legalese, which sounds bad enough:
"You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof."
In other words, while it doesn't actually own your photos, scribblings and status updates — you do — Facebook can do whatever it wants with it, whenever it wants, in order to promote itself or create or sell ads.
Theoretically, it can even "license" a picture of your kids for use in a third party's ad campaign.
Most of that has been part of the Facebook Terms of Service for a while. After all, without user-generated content, Facebook would be nothing.
What's been removed is this: "If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however (sic) you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content."
And what's been added is this: "The following sections will survive any termination of your use of the Facebook Service" — after which follows a list of most of the sections on the Terms of Service page.
So even if you decide Facebook isn't for you, the site can still use anything you posted. It's all been archived.
"I'm done with Facebook," declared blogger Ed Champion upon learning of the TOS changes.
He seemed more annoyed at the older blanket license than the new never-say-die part of the legalese — ironic considering that if he'd deleted his account before Feb. 4 his account really would have been gone for good.
A Facebook representative told the Chicago Tribune that the Web site would soon issue a response to Consumerist's posting.