Friday, 27 February 2009


One of facebook's proposed terms:

2.3 For content that is covered by intellectual property rights (like photos and videos), 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, copy, publicly perform or display, distribute, modify, translate, and create derivative works of (“use”) any content you post on or in connection with Facebook. This license ends when you delete your content or your account.

I guess this can be interpreted as follows: if you use the note facility to upload images such as phiotos, images of paintings, collages, sculpture etc...and written work such as poems, stories, chapters of novels, non fic works, entire novels, and any other content covered by intellectual property rights, we have the right to use those in whatever way we like, with no payment to you, without crediting you with having created them - until you delete the account?

I wonder how many writers are aware of this one? The note facility, as it can be set to only allow certain contacts to see the works, has been a useful way of sharing work for feedback.

I have just deleted my account. Or rather 'deactivated' it. I notice you cant delete your account. So - does this mean everything I've put on there is now theirs to do with as they wish? I hope not!

Oh well. I guess anyone who really wants to keep in touch can find a way to do so.


Sheenagh Pugh said...

I would never, ever, consider posting a poem on facebook. As for photos, well, I'm not Annie Leibowitz; if they can think of a way to make tuppence from any photo of mine, it's more than I can, and they're welcome. I can't really complain about this when I'm pro-fan fiction - admittedly fanficcers do it for love not money, but I think the facebook terms are possibly intended to cover their backs in the event of litigation.

I think the problem with deleting all content from a former facebooker is where you stop - do you delete contributions to other threads that may make nonsense of them? It's the level of interaction that's problematic. There's nothing that physically prevents it though - LiveJournal deletes everything by former members, and a right mess that can make of a discussion in someone else's journal.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

evey 'friend' now deleted. (How SILLY the whole thing is!) Now I'm on to the notes. I sent a few bits and bobs to people I knew, for feedback. But it seems that if they really wanted to, they could nick em, and publish them somewhere, with my name either on or off.

thatis scary!!

Jac said...

Thanks for pointing this out Vanessa - I have posted the info on my facebook page for all to take heed.

I think that publication on the web is often done too lightly. For example at the college where I teach, students put their art and design work on facebook and their own music demos on youtube without any thought of retaining copyright.

Look forward to your reading on Wednesday x

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Thanks Jac. I think the only thing that's changed from the initial term that caused such a furore is that they now say you can delete.

Well all I can say, is try deleting your accocunt! They dont let you.

I have tried again this morning, with no suuccess. All that happens is an endless string of 'type the letters you see' stuff, and then they tell you your password is wrong!

Ossian said...

I can help a little with this, Vanessa, because I can confirm that even you are not listed anymore, i.e. there is no embedded link in your name, the messages that you posted in comments, e.g. when we discussed this very issue, are still there.

The way it works at present is this: Anything that anybody writes on your wall, or your notes' comments, you can delete. Anything that you write on somebody else's, you cannot delete - it becomes public property. The person whose wall it is, or whose note it is can delete it though. For example, I could delete Vanessa's comments from my note. That arrangement is unlikely to change in any new terms, because it is fairly fundamental to the way the messaging system works.

Although conversations would become impossible if parts of them "kept dropping out" when people deleted their comments (it's the same on Guardian online, for example - though there you can delete for up to half an hour, only) - there is one other strange fact. If you "block" somebody on Facebook you can't see their comments and they can't see yours, but you both can be contributing to a discussion involving others. The only logical way for Facebook to deal with that, would be to block the whole discussion from somebody who's blocked. Otherwise they see a discussion with unexplained missing contributions - and it doesn't show any indicator where the missing items are. If they wanted to improve that they should show little indicators to say, "message blocked" - but they can't because they are trying to hide all info about what one person is doing from another.

It's a bit like life though. There are things that can't be unsaid. There are bits of ourselves that we leave "all over town". We may leave town but we leave a trail. The thing is though - we don't have to volunteer for more of this nuisance by contributing to Facebook. As I said elsewhere, I get a lot of fun out of it, I keep my delete button at the ready, and I try not to give any hostages to fortune.

They are now trying to emphasize the ownership of everything to stay with us, because they have burned their fingers. I think they will gradually tend to not claiming anything.

The people running Google - thank heaven - are much cleverer and know the score. They guy who founded Facebook, and just had to pay off some others who said he ripped them off, just doesn't seem to be up to running a 170 million member site. Hopefully he can afford to pay somebody with more nous. If he can't see that when that many people are involved it's no longer about money, then he must be a creep of the lowest order. He keeps wittering on about transparency, but a transparent ripoff is still a ripoff. It's like all the dreadful hand-wringing of politicians - "We feel your pain" (yeah, like the teacher saying "This hurts me more than it hurts you" - I don't think so.)

I "left" Facebook once, earlier, and signed in again and it "re-activated" my account and all was still there. However, if you really, really want to delete everything, it should be possible - though laborious - to go through everything you've posted, one by one and delete every item. While you are on there it allows you to delete anything you've posted.

I haven't looked lately, but it used to say something to the effect that if you wanted everything deleted you could email them and they would do it for you. They might have taken that away now that they've started vacillating about what to do.

You'd think with 170 million people signed up, they would be more careful. This is not the first privacy outrage they've stirred up. A few months ago they tried to let other sites know about the Facebook membership of people who visited those sites. For example, if I went to Amazon, the Amazon program might pop up a message something like "Your friend ABC from Facebook bought this book! Maybe you should buy it too?" (And of course the book would be Naked Yoga or something - I just made that up by the way. Joke.) They had to back down over that too, though it's still there as an option, but you have to specifically enable it. People who don't think carefully about things, might enable that when offered and not realise the potential minefield of nuisance they might be walking into. I know some people will think, well there's nothing to it - nothing to hide, but it's only after a long time and changing allegiances and opinions and sensibilities that one may come to wish not to have left a trail of juvenile or wrongheaded nonsense or whatever, you can think of your own examples. To have companies and others to assume forever after that you are a fan of The Bay City Rollers, or whatever.

Ossian said...

I might as well add, for completeness, that if you think putting something online and then deleting it removes all trace - 'fraid not. You can go to and similar sites where they have what they call their "wayback machine" which enables you to find pages by date. If this bothers you, you can ask them to remove your site and they will. Google also has "cached snapshots" of pages. Not to mention the computers of everybody who viewed the pages, in their temporary internet folders or in their saved copies.

I'm not a fan of the copying wholesale of text from other sites and reposting, for the simple reason that a) it's a ripoff - should be just a link and b) the person who originated the text (e.g. me) would like to be able to own and edit it and not have errors perpetuated on somebody else's site. Would also like to get rid of it sometimes, but not so often. I just don't like my text being on somebody else's site, out of my control and I suspect others don't like it much either. Just thought I'd mention that as well, since we're worrying about re-publishing etc. I used to find this quite distressing but I've become resigned to it, albeit unwillingly, i.e. there doesn't seem to be anything I can do about it.

I never quote other's text except standard small sections with a link to the rest. In discussions, I really, really hate it when people copy a bit of the previous message, never mind the whole thing, as some always do. It just seems to me, y'know, say your own piece and leave others alone, sort of thing.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Thanks for all this, Stephen... its really useful.

talking of which, and in the light of your comments in that last section... do I owe you an apology for copying the list of dos and donts following last year's Willesden debacle to here? maybe I shold have asked permission? I do know they have been very very useful for so many people including yours truly!

Ossian said...

I shouldn't worry - everybody does it. It's copied here there and everywhere. :-}

Ossian said...

(I have improved that a few times since then, by the way. It was very clumsy itself in places.)

Vanessa Gebbie said...

oooo! In that case can I borrow them again and put them here? With all due credit, natch?

Ossian said...

If it were up to me, I'd stick to an excerpt and and a link.