Surprising Rights You Give Up in Product Use Agreements


Companies such as Meta (which owns Facebook and Instagram) and Twitter claim the right to reuse what you post on their social media sites.

“You grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, perform, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivative works of your content”, publishes Facebook in its Terms of use. “This means, for example, that if you share a photo on Facebook, you give us permission to store, copy and share it with others (again, subject to your settings).”

Instagram has almost identical terms.

It makes sense that Facebook or Instagram can share your photos with other users; after all, that’s pretty much what platforms are for. But does the language also mean that Facebook could hand out copies of your photos on a street corner if the company wanted? You might think Meta would provide a simple, reassuring “no” when asked about this. But instead, a spokeswoman, Dina El-Kassaby, pointed us to other sections in the terms of service:

“You own the intellectual property rights (such as copyrights or trademarks) to any content you create and share on Facebook and other Meta Company Products you use. Nothing in these Terms takes away any rights you have to your own content. You are free to share your content with anyone else, anywhere.

“However, in order to provide our services, we need you to give us certain legal permissions (called a “license”) to use this content. This is only for the purpose of providing and improving our products and services as described in the section 1 above.

It covers a lot of ground. The TOS makes it clear that “improving” its products includes using anything you post to help the company develop “artificial intelligence, machine learning systems, and augmented reality,” among other things. new technologies. You might not mind, but then again, a cute story you post about your little one is probably for family and friends, not a team of engineers working on a new metaverse project for Facebook.

from Twitter Terms of use say that the company may freely reuse the content you post: “By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sub-license license) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any media or distribution methods now known or hereafter developed. The Company did not respond to requests for comment. ( Like many websites that welcome readers’ comments on articles, Consumer Reports reserves the right to use anything you post to our site in our own terms of use.)

These companies may have benevolent intentions when it comes to your photos and posts, but consumer advocates and many researchers still oppose the wording of the terms of service. “More generally, these companies know they are able to dictate terms that most users will never read and have no power to resist,” Perzanowski says. “So even if they don’t need those user content licenses right away, there’s very little risk in requiring them.”


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