Given that over 200 million people now use LinkedIn for business networking and, effectively, contact-management, it’s surprising that more of us aren’t aware of what’s in their User Agreement. In fact, when you read the clause below, you half expect it to finish with a dastardly laugh that fades ominously into the distance:
“You grant LinkedIn a nonexclusive, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual, unlimited, assignable… right to us to copy, prepare derivative works of, distribute… use and commercialize, in any way… any information you provide… to LinkedIn, including… any user generated content, ideas, concepts, techniques or data to the services, you submit to LinkedIn, without any further consent, notice and/or compensation to you…”.
In case you read ‘T&Cs’ above and your eyes glazed over – in summary, this clause gives LinkedIn the right to “commercialize” your “content, ideas, concepts, techniques or data” without compensating you. Ask yourself: would I agree to that term in any other contract?
Twitter’s terms of service have an equally menacing air about them. If you post any text or images to Twitter, you are granting the company:
“A worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed)”.
In it’s defence, Twitter qualifies this clause, stating: “This license is you authorizing us to make your Tweets available to the rest of the world and to let others do the same”, which seems reasonable enough.
Interestingly, a judge in the US recently said that anyone else found to be re-using your Tweeted photos without permission can be sued for using them – except, perhaps, if they share them via an embedded Tweet. Sneaky but smart.
Much like LinkedIn and Twitter, Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, combined with 10 further policies – which cover everything from Advertising to Promotions – is rather lighter on rights than it is on responsibilities. As with the other leading networks, Facebook claims a right to your content and data, stating:
“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.”
Note that last line. Since your content on Facebook is quite likely to be shared by your friends and colleagues, Facebook’s right to use your photos, data and other content does not necessarily end when you close your account. Scary stuff.
Of course, it’s important that we’re aware of the TOCs of the leading social networks, but in reality – if you don’t like them you don’t really have much choice. How likely are you to ditch the world’s leading business network because you feel it’s infringed you’re rights?
With most social media platforms, the adage that ‘if you’re not paying for it, you’re not the customer, you’re the product‘ holds true. The only real question is – how and when are you going to get sold?