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Does Facebook Really Own The Rights To Your Photos, Videos and Content?

Updated on May 14, 2013
Does Facebook Own My Photos, Videos and Content?
Does Facebook Own My Photos, Videos and Content?

Did you read the terms when you joined Facebook?

Did you read the terms when you joined Facebook? As off putting as it may have been to read through Facebook's 10,000+ word terms of service and data use policy might be, by checking the 'I agree' box, you are effectively agreeing to a legal contract between you and the social media network.

Do you know what you've signed up for?

Extract From Facebook's Legal Terms

This is an extract from the current Facebook Terms of Use which you have all agreed to if you have a Facebook Profile

Whilst we own all of the content and information we post on Facebook,

  • 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...
  • ...this ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.

Does Facebook Own Your Photos, Videos and Content?

The short answer is Yes!

You may be shocked to know that the moment you post content of any kind on social media sites, including Facebook, that although you still “own” the photograph, you are effectively granting the social media website a 'free' license to use your content in anyway they choose for free, and you are giving them the right to let others use you picture too!

When does this all take place?

The moment you agree to Facebook's terms of service, or terms and conditions when you create your account and Facebook pages.

What Happens To My Photos, Videos and Content If I Deactivate My Facebook Account?

Unfortunately, Facebook’s license of use does not end when we deactivate or delete our Facebook accounts.

Our content is only released from this agreement, once all of the other users that may have interacted with the content have also cut ties with Facebook. This means every photo we have uploaded and been tagged in, every video we have shared and any content that has been tagged with a group of friends.

Untag Your Friends

If you want to start to 'undo' any of this, the first thing to do is to untag any of your friends in your photos. By tagging them you are opening up yourself to their privacy settings. If they have allowed their content to be PUBLIC, by tagging them you are effectively allowing your content to be PUBLIC.

  • Untag your friends.
  • Make sure your friends are aware of how to restrict their own content privacy settings
  • Check your own privacy settings.

Facebook App Privacy Settings
Facebook App Privacy Settings

How To Change Your Facebook Privacy Settings

Your photos, videos and content may be seen by random strangers if your settings are PUBLIC!.

There is an easy way to address this and make sure you do it right now.

How To Set Your Application Privacy Settings

  • For each and every app that we open, use and authorize on Facebook, we are opening up ourselves and effectively giving them access to our content. So choose wisely which apps you authorize.
  • Visit the app page on Facebook. This will display every app that you are currently connected to.
  • The current privacy settings will display there. For each app, select Edit, and choose the privacy settings that you are comfortable with.
  • For the greatest privacy, select 'Only Me'
  • This is also a great time to delete any apps that you no longer want to have connected to your account.

Why You Need To Set Your Privacy On Facebook

Allowing your content to remain PUBLIC can result in your content and photos being associated with community pages such as these ones on Dogs, Motorcycles and Babies

Facebook Privacy Settings and Tools

To place a restriction on your content, status updates, photos and videos, you need to visit your Profile's Privacy Settings.

You will notice that there are a number of settings available for you to change which cover who can see your content and who can look you up.

To place strong restrictions on your personal content, you need to restrict your settings to Friends.

By allowing your content to be shared with 'Friends Of Friends' or at worst Public, you are opening yourself up to anything.

Facebook Content Privacy Settings
Facebook Content Privacy Settings

How can I see what my timeline looks like to other people?

Once you have changed your settings it is a good idea to take a look at what your timeline and profile page looks like to other people.

This is very easy to do.

  1. Go to your timeline and click on the little downward arrow that is positioned in the bottom right hand corner of your cover image.
  2. Select View As from the dropdown menu.
  3. The profile page you can then see is EXACTLY your profile looks to the public.
  4. To preview how your profile page appears to a friend, simply type their name into the search field and press enter.

Remember: ANY content and photos that you may have hidden on your timeline could STILL be visible to others that may have already shared them on Facebook.

How can I see what my timeline looks like to other people?
How can I see what my timeline looks like to other people?

What About Other Social Networking SItes Like Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram?

Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, Pinterest and LinkedIn all have complex terms of service agreements that we sign up to when we create our profiles and accounts.

Twitter, for example, mentions in its terms that you give them a broad scope to use, change and distribute any photos, writing or video posted through Twitter's service.

Be aware that joining a social networking site for fun, to catch up with friends and to share content in the form of videos and photos is all under contract. A contract which you agreed to when you joined.


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    • idigwebsites profile image

      idigwebsites 4 years ago from United States

      That's unfair... I hope Facebook will change this rule.

    • cherryseeds profile image

      KABILIGI Clement 4 years ago from Kigali-Rwanda

      Thank you for this interesting article. Then it looks facebook reserves the rights to even sell our content without our consent? then this might be awful

    • profile image

      Louise 4 years ago

      how do i view photos to see if my sons are on this site?

    • WorkAtHomeMums profile image

      WorkAtHomeMums 4 years ago from Australia

      Make sure you adjust your privacy settings to be very strict, and if you tag your friends or family you need to make sure their settings are just as strict and so forth. Anyone with public settings or friends of friends can allow your PRIVATE photo to be shown to those you do not know.

    • profile image

      sam 4 years ago

      Your not allowed to post pictures without my knowledge or concent take all pages down asap im tamping about it

    • profile image

      tom 4 years ago

      Remove site NOW im not happy about this at all there are to many sick people out there TAKE PAGE AWAY

    • profile image

      Laura 4 years ago

      Should of put it in big red writing at the top of page when signing up !!!! I don't my kids on pages so the world can see only my friends and family REMOVE ASAP !!

    • profile image

      Ashleigh 4 years ago

      Iv just been told theres pictures ov my daughter on this site i want them removing asap my fb is private so i don't want any site taking my pictures when ever they feel like it i should beable 2 upload pictures ov my child 2 my facebook as i just want my friends 2 see them so get the pictures removed im reporting this site too i do not agree with it!!!