updated 02:45 pm EST, Mon November 26, 2012
Facebook to users: you still own your content
In response to a widespread meme in which users post a legalese statement reserving sole ownership rights over the content they post to Facebook, the social network has released a statement informing users that they still retain control and ownership of any content and information they post to the site. The notice says that this "always has been" the policy of Facebook and that the rumor warning of a change to content ownership is false. Meanwhile, the social network is reworking its governing documents, shifting away from its current voting method toward a more meaningful feedback-oriented system for policy changes.
The complete text of the statement is as follows:
There is a rumor circulating that Facebook is making a change related to ownership of users' information or the content they post to the site. This is false. Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post, as stated in our terms. They control how that content and information is shared. That is our policy, and it always has been.
Late last week, lengthy status updates began appearing on the site, with users "hereby declaring" a personal copyright attached to "personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings," and so forth. The status update cited "new Facebook guidelines" as the reason for the statement of copyright and advised other users to copy and past the statement in order to reserve copyright over the content they post to the site. Failure to do so, the status warned, constituted tacit assent to have elements of one's postings used for commercial purposes.
Prior to the Thanksgiving weekend, the social network announced new proposed changes to its governing documents. Under the proposed changes, Facebook would shift away from the voting system it currently uses for feedback and governance -- which it says "incentivized the quantity of comments over their quality" -- in favor of an as-yet-unspecified system. Aspects of that system include an "Ask the Chief Privacy Officer" feature, allowing users to submit questions about privacy to Chief Privacy Officer of Policy Erin Egan. Egan would also begin hosting webcasts on a regular basis to address user concerns on privacy, safety, and security. Facebook would also alter its data policy to give users new tools for managing messages and reminders about what is visible to other people on user timelines.