A Slice of Life

commentary on issues in politics, culture, environment and technology

14 May 11 Have You Sold Your Soul to Facebook?

A tag cloud (a typical Web 2.0 phenomenon in i...

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Some time ago Facebook changed it’s image viewing feature.  There was some discussion at the time around the social media traps, many commenting that they weren’t in love with the changes but eventually this died away and most seem to have accepted the changes without thinking too much about them.  The problem is, sooner or later you realise that the changed layout means you can now only view images, you can’t actually download them.  This may seem like no big deal but the implications are actually quite sinister.

There are of course, ways to bypass the problem.  To download facebook photos you could simply install a FireFox addon such as the Facebook Photo Album Downloader 0.2 by Nic Holliday.  This will easily download whole albums from Facebook.  Photos are downloaded to the default firefox download location.  To download, right click on a link to a facebook photo album and select “Download Photo Album”

Another way is to view the source code of any photo page, do a find for the tag img src=, copy the link into a browser and download the image as you normally would.

Either method is of course potentially in violation of facebook’s terms of service (TOS).

“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.” http://www.facebook.com/terms.php

Providing that the images you are downloading are your own you are not doing anything wrong, but what this really means is that Facebook effectively owns anything you upload.  Again, most people accept terms such as this perhaps because they don’t place much importance on their personal snapshots.  But what if you actually uploaded some intellectual property which was worth something.  In the very act of uploading to Facebook, or practically any other website which allows the upload feature you are giving away a large part of your ownership rights.

A great many are easily seduced by the plethora of so called ‘Web 2.0‘ sites offering a dazzling range of online services.  While many of these may well have great benefits, it is always worth remembering that TOS can be legally binding documents and that most organisations reserve the right to change their TOS at any time. You may one day log on to the seemingly friendly, free social site you belong to only to find that you no longer own your content and your identity has been sold to advertisers.

Don’t laugh too soon, it may have already happened… :wink:

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Reader's Comments

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  2. |

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