Facebook Delays Troubling Policy Update to Address User Concerns


The dust has barely settled from the Instagram policy fumble, but it looks like parent company Facebook might be in for a similar upheaval.

The company’s recently proposed changes to its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and Data Use Policy — which were supposed to take effect on the 5th — have been delayed after users and privacy groups alike have voiced serious concerns.

As was the case with the controversial Instagram policy update, the issue is with the amount of rights Facebook is taking with your personal information and content — yes, that includes any photos uploaded to the site.

According to the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), the update as it now stands would allow Facebook to use your name, likeness, content, images, private information and personal brand in advertising and in commercial content without any permission from or compensation for you.


Even if you don’t upload much info to Facebook, the ASMP points out that your content still might not be safe. One tidbit in Facebook’s section-by-section summary says that they are collecting information “whenever you use or are running Facebook.” which has the ASMP thinking this gives Facebook the right to monitor your activities and content even if, say, the app is simply running in the background on your phone.

That’s not 100% clear from the language used, but the fact that Facebook is claiming the right to use your profile picture and content for ads without your consent (beyond agreeing to this update) or compensation is troubling enough. So troubling, in fact, that six consumer privacy groups have already teamed up and begun fighting this most recent update.

In a letter to the FTC, the groups claim that the new policy violates a 2011 settlement between the social network and the Trade Commission. They’re asking that the FTC block the update in accordance with that agreement.

The response to the proposed updates has been less than enthusiastic.

The response to the proposed updates has been less than enthusiastic.

It was shortly after this letter was received by the FTC that Facebook announced a delay in implementing the policy “to ensure that user comments are reviewed and taken into consideration.” When asked, a Facebook spokesperson told The New York Times that he was unaware of the latest developments (read: the letter to the FTC).

Controversy or no, unless the FTC acts to block the update, the policy changes are still expected to go into effect sometime this week. Hopefully some revisions will be made that allow users a level of control over what Facebook can and cannot use, but that’s by no means a guarantee.

If you have the time and interest, you can read the full worrisome document here, or check out the ASMP’s FAQ about the update here. And if you’d like to voice your concerns with Facebook before the policy update goes live, the company has asked that comments/concerns be posted here.

(via ASMP and The Verge)

Image credit: Facebook Upclose by Ethan Bloch

  • Josh Zytkiewicz

    The only thing that’s really going to change how Facebook acts is if massive amounts of people leave Facebook.

  • SnapMyAd

    We have created a new way of photo sharing because of this. Through SnapMyAd, companies can set up promotion campaigns to collect such images and the permission to use them. Photographs that are selected or receive a high number of likes from fans are then rewarded with perks and discounts from that brand. The power is in your hand to decide who uses your photos and for what type of perk!

  • Jonas N

    Hmm, OK if they use my profile picture or name, but it’s tempting to simply start sharing photos linked to from Flickr. People can still comment on the shared links even if they don’t use Flickr. And no photos for Facebook.

  • Martin Nilsson

    Although one should always be careful, I still find it a bit funny when people go all crazy about Facebook’s polices. Sure they are a bit wide, but given how copyright works they have to be. And no, I’m far from an expert but look at it like this.

    You post it on your wall. That’s fine. But to show up on your friends stream, Facebook need to get the copyright owners permission to do so. Sure, they could ask you each time for all of your friends. Or they could get the right to what ever the f**** they want and save both of you some time. Which is sort of what they do.

    The problem is that they MIGHT also sell it to a third party. But that is why they have an other section that says they will respect your rights as an owner. And you simple just have to trust them to do that. Or quit the service.

  • Jason Philbrook

    I’ve seen ads naming a friend as liking a company or product. Upon seeing that, I unliked many things, companies, movies, hobbies in facebook for privacy purposes. Don’t “like” a competitor or something controversial because facebook will tell all your friends that when that company starts advertising on facebook. Its going to go from anecdotes about you liking something into ads with your smiling photo on a box of wheaties, (or the equivalent of your smug grin promoting the fact that you liked a prescription medicine your addicted classmate would bust down your door and kill people for, or your face promoting your competitor or a place you visited or were tagged in)

  • Allan Winchester

    Perhaps every photographer should consider pulling all their photographs from Facebook. Next, upload a cornucopia of images of s**t. Dog s**t. Cat s**t. Pig s**t. Polar bear s**t. Owl s**t. Ungulate s**t. Bear s**t. Bird s**t. Cow s**t. Whale s**t. Black bear s**t. Penguin s**t. Human s**t. Vulture s**t. Horse s**t. But most of all, BULL S**T, which is exactly what FB’s arrogant, exploitative and abusive user agreement is.

    Each photographer should strive to post, say, 100 images of s**t on his/her FB page.

    Think that might send a message??

  • Zos Xavius

    I’ve somehow “liked” companies that I would never, ever like. Walmart for instance. I hate FB. My business page’s reach has gone in the toilet since they started trying to get you pay to make it stay in people’s feeds for longer. Go figure. When they implemented boosting posts my reach took a nosedive to the bottom of the chart.

  • Andrew Holt

    I hope they use me in a facebook ad! I’ll be famous!!! But it’d be way too much pressure!!!

  • parkylondon

    Why can’t I just pay for my Facebook account and opt out of the data mining?

  • Kazumi

    I’d prefer to pay Facebook rather than see ads!

  • Tzctplus -

    Well, many of us are in Facebook only because other people are. Every little policy they try to introduce that is overbearing squezes some of of us out of their environment.

  • prick

    And what about the people who are in photos and didn’t give Facebook permission to use their likeness? If Facebook goes through with that, they would require everyone in every picture to sign that their likeness will be used. Not just the user of the Account who uploads it.

  • prick

    And what about the people who are in photos and didn’t give Facebook permission to use their likeness? If Facebook goes through with that, they would require everyone in every picture to sign that their likeness will be used. Not just the user of the Account who uploads it.