It would take an average of 76 working days to read all the privacy policies you encounter on the internet in any given year, so it’s no surprise that many users don’t always take the time to read the fine print.
Spanning 14,000 words, Facebook’s terms and conditions are hardly succinct, so if you’re one of the platform’s 1.4 billion daily active users you may want to think about whether you properly understood what you were signing up to. Especially in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
One Facebook user, Dylan McKay, obtained his raw data last week and was shocked at the pages of personal call logs and messages it contained.
Others also found similar quantities of information when they requested the files from Facebook and hundreds of people have started contributing to a shared Google doc with their personal findings.
Facebook has responded in a statement, saying the data uncovered is, and always has been, obtained through means that users themselves agreed to.
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“Call and text history logging is part of an opt-in feature for people using Messenger or Facebook Lite on Android...people have to expressly agree to use this feature.”
In fact, you haven’t just agreed to a personal call log, but many other things the social media site has on file, including (but not limited to) your current or past addresses, all apps you have added, places you’ve checked into, your birthday, pending friend requests, deleted friends, your education, email address (even those you’ve removed), events you have been invited to, your last location, and phone numbers of people who don’t necessarily have Facebook.
Facebook also records every IP address you’ve ever logged into Facebook from, and geographical coordinates of these logins. And has facial recognition data based on photographs you are tagged in.
Come as a surprise? If you have agreed to share this information without even realising it, then what else have you agreed to? We went through Facebook’s legal terms (last updated on 31 January 2018) to find out.
You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, such as photos and videos (known as intellectual property or IP content), but that doesn’t mean Facebook has no rights.
“You grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide licence to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook,” say the terms.
This license ends when you delete your account, but if your content has been shared with other people (for example, a photograph shared on multiple friend’s pages) it will not be deleted. Content is only released from this once all other users that have interacted with the content have also broken their ties.
Not only that, but content persists in backup copies for a “reasonable period of time” - Facebook compares it to the contents of your desktop recycling bin.
You might think that it is funny to tag your Facebook friends in certain posts or memes, but according to the legal terms you aren’t allowed to “tag users” without their consent, or “send email invitations to non-users”.
You have agreed not to provide any false personal information on Facebook or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission.
You will also not create more than one personal account. And if Facebook disables your account, you will not create another one without their permission.
You have also agreed to self-police the following:
- You will not use Facebook if you are a convicted sex offender.
- You will keep your contact information accurate and up to date.
- You will not use your personal timeline primarily for your own commercial gain, and will use a Facebook Page for such purposes.
If you select a username or similar identifier for your account or page, facebook reserves the right to remove or reclaim it if they believe it is appropriate (such as when a trademark owner complains about a username that does not closely relate to a user’s actual name).
Making money from you.
Facebook’s T&Cs state: “You give us permission to use your name, profile picture, content and information in connection with commercial, sponsored or related content (such as a brand you like), served or enhanced by us. This means, for example, that you permit a business or other entity to pay us to display your name and/or profile picture with your content or information, without any compensation to you.”
Deleting your Facebook.
Information that others have shared about you is not part of your account and will not be deleted when you delete your account.
Nick Shaw, cybersecurity expert and general manager at Norton, told HuffPost UK: “The most important step you need to take is reading social media fine print. Information is today’s most valuable currency so make sure you are paying particular attention to what you are agreeing to share when you sign up for a new account.
“You wouldn’t just hand out your banking account information, so similarly you shouldn’t give away your privacy rights.
“Applications and platforms ask you to agree to terms that are best for them and not necessarily for you. Take a moment to understand what you are signing up for and make sure your permission choices are right for you.”