Early this September the social networking giant Facebook issued a new and drastic change to their Terms of Service. I didn’t know about it until my friend, photographer Benedict Laig posted a link to it on his Facebook profile. Naturally as part of my “research-before-reposting” policy I looked up several of the phrases quoted on google. I made a comment on Benedict’s FB profile, citing a source from the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP). Another friend of Benedict’s tried to do research perhaps to shed light on whether the news was real or a hoax, citing an old article from Snopes.com as all that he could find regarding the startling news.
This is how I answered that comment:
Hi Patrick, Snopes.com is the first place I go to when I encounter things like this as well. However, the link you posted was last updated in June 2012. The article from the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) is not dated, but does say that FB issued the change in TOS on 5 September 2013. That’s probably why snopes.com doesn’t have anything recent on it yet. It’s too new and snopes hasn’t had the time to confirm or dismiss it as a hoax.
In their Data Use Policy that is downloadable in PDF form, the entire section on FB sharing our information with advertisers has been stricken out.
This is only part of what was removed: “We do not share any of your information with advertisers (unless, of course, you give us permission). As described in this policy, we may share your information when we have removed from it anything that personally identifies you or combined it with other information so that it no longer personally identifies you.” — Note that this was removed, and the implication now is that FB CAN and WILL use our data for advertising “unless you give us permission” as it states in the updated DUP. BUT anything that you post as PUBLIC is fair game.
How does this affect people who use FB for advertising products and services in general, and photographers in particular? If you have an FB page, like Ben and I do, anything you post there is public as a matter of course. It’s the alternative to having your own website on your own domain. With the new DOP and TOS, Facebook can use anything you post there for anything they darn well please.
But then again, this should not be something new to us. The immediate downside of making our work public is that the minute any of it is online, it becomes fair game to everyone else on the internet, TOS/DUP notwithstanding. All the more so if we use a FREE service such as Facebook. That is the risk we take.