Facebook: Terms of Service changes again and what it means to photographers

Sep 11, 2013

Topic: General Legal, Social Media
Time Investment: 5 Minutes
Suggested Product:  BizRevamp®


It goes without saying, that social media can be a fantastic marketing resource for the photographer.  Many budding photogs start their businesses by building a fan base on social media.  Social media allows us to get our products to our customers, show off our skills, and solicit new business.  However, social media is not without risk.  Absent the risk of theft of our ideas and images, we must also be constantly aware of the ever changing terms of service provisions that social media sites utilize.

As previously blogged (See also: Pinterest TOSUpdate: Instagram TOSInstagram TOS),  the terms of service for any particular social media site is the contract that you agree to by using the service.  That brings us to the topic of today.  Facebook recently announced proposed changes to their terms of service.


What changes did Facebook make to their terms of service anyways?

While most of the changes are relatively minor, there is a drastic and controversial change in Section 10 of the document.

When you strip away the language that is being removed and add in the language that is being inserted, the new terms will read like this:

“You give us permission to use your name, profile picture, content, and information in connection with commercial, sponsored, or related content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us. This means, for example, that you permit a business or other entity to pay us to display your name and/or profile picture with your content or information, without any compensation to you.

If you have selected a specific audience for your content or information, we will respect your choice when we use it. If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to the terms of this section (and the use of your name, profile picture, content, and information) on your behalf.”

It is important to remember that this provision must be read as a part of the terms of service as a whole, and that by using Facebook, you grant Facebook a license to use anything that you share.

“For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.”


How do these changes impact me as a photographer?

These provisions have several implications for the photographer.

  •  Facebook is specifically removing the “subject to the limits you place” language from the old terms of service.

This means that you will no longer be able to place limits on how Facebook uses your content and information as Facebook deals with advertisers and businesses. Conceivably, Facebook could utilize your name and a profile picture advertising products to your friends and family, even if those products are those that you do not endorse or agree with.

  • The language inserted in the middle of Section 10 that reads, “If you have selected a specific audience for your content or information, we will respect your choice when we use it” does not provide any meaningful protection for you as it relates to Facebook using your content, image and likeness.

Unlike the previous language which promised to only utilize the information “subject to the limitations that you set” the new language only promises to respect your choice as to audience if you have selected a specific audience when you shared your content.​

  • Contrary to popular internet lore, posting any sort of notification (UCC 1-308) or similar will have absolutely no legal effect whatsoever on the terms of service and does not protect you in any way.

If you do not agree with the Facebook Terms of Service (as a whole), your only option is to quit using the site or to convince Facebook to change them. (Or else lean with it, rock with it, tips below!)


What info is Facebook getting about me?

If you look at Facebook’s data collection policies, you will realize that Facebook collects a lot of information about you, including GPS data:

We receive data about you whenever you interact with Facebook, such as when you look at another person’s timeline, send or receive a message, search for a friend or a Page, click on, view or otherwise interact with things, use a Facebook mobile app, or purchase Facebook Credits or make other purchases through Facebook.

When you post things like photos or videos on Facebook, we may receive additional related data (or metadata), such as the time, date, and place you took the photo or video.

We receive data from the computer, mobile phone or other device you use to access Facebook, including when multiple users log in from the same device. This may include your IP address and other information about things like your internet service, location, the type (including identifiers) of browser you use, or the pages you visit. For example, we may get your GPS or other location information so we can tell you if any of your friends are nearby.

We receive data whenever you visit a game, application, or website that uses Facebook Platform or visit a site with a Facebook feature (such as a social plugin), sometimes through cookies. This may include the date and time you visit the site; the web address, or URL, you’re on; technical information about the IP address, browser and the operating system you use; and, if you are logged in to Facebook, your User ID.

Sometimes we get data from our affiliates or our advertising partners, customers and other third parties that helps us (or them) deliver ads, understand online activity, and generally make Facebook better. For example, an advertiser may tell us information about you (like how you responded to an ad on Facebook or on another site) in order to measure the effectiveness of – and improve the quality of – ads. We also put together data from the information we already have about you and your friends. For example, we may put together data about you to determine which friends we should show you in your News Feed or suggest you tag in the photos you post. We may put together your current city with GPS and other location information we have about you to, for example, tell you and your friends about people or events nearby, or offer deals to you that you might be interested in. We may also put together data about you to serve you ads that might be more relevant to you.

When we get your GPS location, we put it together with other location information we have about you (like your current city). But we only keep it until it is no longer useful to provide you services, like keeping your last GPS coordinates to send you relevant notifications. We only provide data to our advertising partners or customers after we have removed your name or any other personally identifying information from it, or have combined it with other people’s data in a way that it is no longer associated with you.


So this brings us to the next important question…..

so wake up! This is the part you want to read!

What can you do to protect yourself if you are going to use Facebook:

  • Consider using watermarks on your images or using lower resolution images when utilizing social media. See Also:  Adding a Watermark Brush
  • ​Be careful about what you share on a social media site. Do you really want to post your prize winning images to social media and grant Facebook a license to use it in advertising? It would be better to upload the images to your own website and then link to that page from Facebook.
  • Be careful about the information that you release about yourself and your business. Remember that everything that you share on a social media site is out in cyberspace forever and cannot really be pulled back.
  • Categorize your images based on ones that you are willing to release for advertising (knowing that you are granting a social media site a license to use them) and ones that you only will release if you are compensated. If certain images fall into the latter category, DO NOT share them on Facebook or other social media sites.
  • Participate in the comment process that Facebook is utilizing. The proposed changes are just that, proposed. If Facebook receives enough feedback, perhaps better Terms of Service will be drafted that will give you better protection.

​Don’t forget to get model releases signed to publish on your Facebook page and other social media accounts.



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