When ye giveth to Facebook and Instagram, your privacy and ownership be taketh away.

FIVE THôT columnist David Allen Ibsen is the CEO and founder of FIVE THôT and of the business consultancy Five Meetings Before Lunch.

Just recently, Facebook announced that it is eliminating the ability for people to hide themselves on Facebook’s search, opening some of user’s data to the world, as it will be searchable not only on Facebook, but in Internet search results on the likes of Google, and Bing. It is another revision to the company’s privacy policy and terms of service—the agreement you make with the company when you agree to do business with them that helps make it clear that Facebook is in charge of who sees your information and who owns the content you post on the social networking site. 

The core concept of “social networking” is it as a tool to share conversations, and photos, and all sorts of information, online. Companies like Facebook, and LinkedIn, and Instagram and Foursquare provide these networking and communications services to users free of charge, with the expectation that they can monetize you as a user to advertisers and other business affiliates.

So, it should come as little surprise that these organizations look to legally “own” your content so it might be used to monetize its business. Facebook “owns” your photos and the data that you post on your profile page. It knows as much about you as you are willing to share, and holds that information as its own.

What ye giveth to Facebook, they take and own.

Most digital natives—those who were born post-Internet know to be selective about what information they share across the Internet, and know that there really is no such thing as “privacy” on the world wide web. Think of it like a “secret”—even if you tell others “don’t tell anyone what I’m about to tell you,” there’s a pretty good chance that someone will break that confidence.

Yes, it is up to consumers to gauge what information about themselves they are willing to share.

So, I’m glad that Instagram—now owned by Facebook, publicly declared its intentions on what it might do with the hundreds of millions of photographs posted to the community photo site. While the whole concept of Instagram is about sharing—not storing, not owning, but sharing it is good to know what the company intends to do with your stuff.

Instagram released an updated version of its privacy policy and terms of service on Monday, which include clarifications and consent statements on how photographs uploaded by users may be used by Instagram and its parent company, Facebook.

The changes, which will go into effect Jan. 16, will not apply to pictures shared before that date.

Instagram can share information about its users with Facebook, as well as outside affiliates and advertisers, allowing advertisers in Facebook’s ad network to potentially use data like the places you vacation, the bands you listen to and the restaurants you dine at to better target ads to users like you.

The company also is letting you know that they may use the images you upload and share—which it now “owns” to create ads that might appear in the photo stream without your knowledge.

In other words, you joined Instagram to share your photos, but in return we get to take what you share and make a business out of it.

Call it a deal with the devil, or simply the price of admission.

Sources: The New York Times on Facebook and Instagram 



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