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Facebook Lets Advertisers Use Pictures Without Permission 260

Posted by kdawson
from the controlling-rights-to-your-face dept.
Krokz sends in an LA Times piece that begins "A warning is bouncing through cyberspace today, landing on the Facebook statuses of many of the social networking site's users. The message: 'Facebook has agreed to let third party advertisers use your posted pictures without your permission.' It continues with a prescription of how you can protect your photos." The attention-grabbing incident in this furor involved a married woman, whose photo appeared in an ad for a dating service that was presented to her husband to view. Fortunately, both husband and wife had a sense of humor about it.
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Facebook Lets Advertisers Use Pictures Without Permission

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  • Big deal (Score:5, Funny)

    by sakdoctor (1087155) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @06:01PM (#28821989) Homepage

    Apart from goatse, I don't have any pictures on facebook.

  • by jdigital (84195) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @06:02PM (#28822003) Homepage
    (From http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=110636457130 [facebook.com])

    In the past couple of days, a rumor has begun spreading that claims we have changed our policies for third-party advertisers and the use of your photos. These rumors are false, and we have made no such change in our advertising policies. If you see a Wall post or receive a message with the following language or something similar, it is this false rumor:

    FACEBOOK has agreed to let third party advertisers use your posted pictures WITHOUT your permission.

    The advertisements that started these rumors were not from Facebook but placed within applications by third parties. Those ads violated our policies by misusing profile photos, and we already required the removal of those deceptive ads from third-party applications before this rumor began spreading. We are as concerned as many of you are about any potential threat to your experience on Facebook and the protection of your privacy. That's why we prohibit ads on Facebook Platform that cause a bad user experience, are misleading, or otherwise violate our policies. Along with removing ads, we've recently prohibited two entire advertising networks from providing services to applications on Facebook Platform because they were not compliant with our policies and failed to correct their practices.

    • by ghostis (165022) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @06:11PM (#28822073) Homepage

      Mod up please. /. really should check snopes/company blogs before posting summaries like this... :-/

    • by 1sockchuck (826398) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @06:12PM (#28822081) Homepage
      The ad network misbehavior that fueled this rumor was covered by VentureBeat [venturebeat.com] in early June, when these networks were banned by Facebook.
    • by Seumas (6865) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @06:18PM (#28822161)

      What Mark Zuckerberg really means is:

      We have banned the third party applications responsible for exploiting the privacy of our userbase, because we reserve the right to exploit their privacy OURSELVES".

      After all, there IS an option for this in the user settings, so its eems pretty clear that they either already do something similar or intend to in the future. The response from facebook is nothing more than Apple kicking an application out of their iphone app store, because they want to introduce their own version of it and make the money for themselves.

    • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdotNO@SPAMhackish.org> on Saturday July 25, 2009 @06:33PM (#28822263)

      They do actually have a Privacy option, opted in by default, entitled "Appearance in Facebook Ads". I could forgive users for believing that this option, if set on, allowed them to, well, appear in Facebook Ads. The explanatory text isn't particularly clear, either:

      Facebook occasionally pairs advertisements with relevant social actions from a user's friends to create Facebook Ads. Facebook Ads make advertisements more interesting and more tailored to you and your friends. These respect all privacy rules. You may opt out of appearing in your friends' Facebook Ads below.

      It sounds like they're using something from your profile in Facebook ads shown to your friends, and it certainly doesn't explicitly rule out using your photos when they have you "appear[] in your friends' Facebook Ads".

      • Are you sure it's opted in by default? I don't remember seeing/modifying it before, but it's off for me. Then again, I might have changed it and forgotten about it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Seumas (6865)

          Mine was opted-in by default. I never changed it. I didn't even know it existed. And I don't use applications so none of those changed it.

    • by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @06:50PM (#28822385)
      Okay. This is "better" in the sense that it is not Facebook itself exploiting user pictures. But it's still bothersome on some level. In particular it's bothersome that Facebook's default privacy rules make this possible. It seems that enabling an application gives that application near-limitless access to a person's account. It's all well and good that Facebook's policies forbid this, and that they've retroactively done something about it. But why was the access there in the first place?

      I do think users need to take some responsibility. They should be more careful about the text and photos they upload to some company's servers, and the applications they enable. But still it seems that Facebook is way too permissive with privacy and security settings, and that they are continually pushing the boundaries of what's acceptable with respect to advertising. For instance, why is it that when you go: SETTINGS > PRIVACY SETTINGS > NEWS FEEDS AND WALL, the "Appearance in Facebook Ads" is by default enabled. You need to manually turn it off. Yes it's up to users to manage their privacy settings, but having users continually being opted-in to these kinds of things (without any particular announcement, that I'm aware of) smacks of "let's see what we can get away with--and apologize only if we have to...".
      • by zuperduperman (1206922) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @10:09PM (#28823577)

        This is the real problem with Facebook. They've cleverly engineered a system which *allows* you to control your privacy but then seduces or fools you into giving it up by making settings so obtuse, difficult to find and anticipate that almost nobody successfully does.

        Example: I thought I had my facebook settings locked down pretty good. I turned off access of just about everything to anybody except direct friends. A few months later, my birthday comes around and all my friends start sending me happy birthday messages via Facebook! Turns out, there is / was a completely different location for the control of your birth date privacy. Not only did my friends see my birthday, but half of them had installed some kind of 'notify about your friends birthday' application so my birth date (something used commonly as security verification data) was now spread into some unknown number of 3rd party applications around the globe. There is basically no way to know now who on the planet might have gathered my birth date, be correlating it with other data and on selling it for the purposes of identity theft. It's just one small example, but this is everywhere in Facebook.

        • by SheeEttin (899897)

          half of them had installed some kind of 'notify about your friends birthday' application

          I believe birthday notifications are part of the Events application, which comes as part of a new account.

  • The Evil Plot (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Akira Kogami (1566305)
    It seems at this point like Facebook's plan was to make itself an indispensable part of millions of people's lives and then abuse them like this because they know most users still won't quit.
  • In other news (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PBoyUK (1591865)
    Man who continually stands in the middle of the road is hit by a car. Seriously, what are these people expecting when they sign up to a site like Facebook?
    • Re:In other news (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Seumas (6865) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @06:22PM (#28822193)

      I'm sorry, but that's stupid. That's like saying that you deserve to have your information exploited and released in any way whatsoever for ANY website you use. Or, for that matter, for any ISP you use (since ISP terms of service often include the right for the ISP to use any content you transmit over their connections).

      Facebook is no worse than many other services and much better than some. Like other sites, they COULD full out abuse their users, but even if they don't have a "do no evil" mission statement, they do want to keep good-will of their user base or else everyone will move on to the next thing just like everyone moved on from MySpace.

      That said, Facebook has massive sketchy potential, but not anything particularly more than other sites like LinkedIn or Picassa, or Flickr or Slashdot (which for all we know could just decide one day to un-anonymize your every message you ever posted while logged in).

      Now, using facebook applications? THAT I would definitely agree with you on. The first thing you should do on Facebook is shut off all applications and hooks to applications.

      • by gmuslera (3436)
        There is not so long distance from this to newspapers complaining about Google News. Once you publish to the world your photo it could be used anywhere unless expressly forbidden. If Facebook had such kind of restriction on the photos published in its site, then can sue that advertiser.

        Probably also could be a not so long distance from spammers, that usually take real emails from unrelated people to send their offers. In both cases is "you" attached to an unrelated company product/offer because some of your
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Facebook's entire reason for existing is collecting advertising information and making advertisements more effective. Why would you act like it is terribly misguided to declare that by using Facebook, people are asking to be subjected to this kind of stupidity? The entire setup of Facebook is designed to extract as much information about you and how you interact with your friends as possible.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by PBoyUK (1591865)
        Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's an acceptable thing, but people really don't have much to complain about when they upload so many personally identifiable details about themselves that are so publicly available. It'd be like complaining about getting a virus from some warez site. No, the virus should not have been there, but you have to accept the risk that comes with what you do. The average facebook clone user I know puts absolutely zero thought into how to protect their privacy, and I'll bet a lot
  • by timmarhy (659436) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @06:04PM (#28822015)
    mark my words, the current generation who post anything and everything on myspace and facebook will end up regretting it. I have to wonder what will happen when facebook goes into decline and cash dries up, and they start selling pictures to porn sites. what if you go for a job and they recognise you from a site you have nothing to do with called bustedpartysluts.com?

    unless facebook has you sign a proper model release form, i can't see how this kind of use is going to hold up.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by limonadito (969409)

      what if you go for a job and they recognise you from a site you have nothing to do with called bustedpartysluts.com?

      If they recognize me from bustedpartysluts.com I'm not sure I'd want to work for them...or would that make a very interesting workplace?

    • Sell it to a porn site? Why on earth would a porn site want pictures from FaceBook, the vast majority of which are of fully clothed individuals? The zillion photos FaceBook has have no monetary value besides the traffic they bring from people who are friends the individuals in the pictures.

      Now there are other reasons you shouldn't post incriminating pics to FaceBook, but porn sites buying them isn't it.

      • by Zakabog (603757)

        Sell it to a porn site? Why on earth would a porn site want pictures from FaceBook, the vast majority of which are of fully clothed individuals?

        There are actually websites out there that pay you for those types of photos. They have some banner that says "We found these sluts on MySpace!" and show you some of the pictures that girls like to take in the mirror wearing a bathing suit, drunk at a party making out with another girl, or just a hot girl who is fully clothed. The idea is that people will see those photos and think "Oh if I buy a membership I can see THAT GIRL naked! When all they have is a couple photos that look like they came from MySpac

        • Websites like that generally don't bother paying for photos or getting the proper rights. They just host offshore and copy paste them to their hearts content.

    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @08:22PM (#28822963)

      I'm getting real tired of this attitude. My generation isn't stupid. They know what they're doing -- they're creating a transparent society where we can all be a bit more polite to one another because everyone has dirt on everyone else, and because we want to put ourselves out there and make friends, rather than dying alone in some castle with all our toys like the boomers are right now, because they wanted their precious privacy. We actually want a gender and color-blind society, built on freedom and transparency -- and we're doing just that. Oh, the humanity! The only thing this generation regrets is that management is generally 40+ and thinks that because someone doesn't have their personal information out there, they're somehow better qualified. Which is about the only thing I hear people worrying about with their online profiles -- not whether their friends, or even their own mother, or pastor, or old high school teacher, finds out about those drunken photos. But the boomers, and their outdated notions of privacy and freedom, will die before us. This is why I'm glad people don't live forever... new ideas would never have a chance if we did.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This seems somewhat generous... People posting pictures online may know what they're doing, insofar as they don't care that others know they were at a party last weekend, or whatever else. But precious few are posting with the active intent of "creating a transparent society..."

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Seumas (6865)

        I've heard a lot of people suggest recently that the next couple of generations (those who are perhaps in their teens today) will look toward internet results and social networking hits on an applicant or social acquaintance or potential date with much less accusation. That they will give the benefit of the doubt to people they deal with because they'll take into account that anyone can impersonate you online, say things about you online, and that even legitimate things that are your responsibility may have

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Just because you feel like speaking for an entire generation, I felt I had to reply, as I assume I'm the right age for that generation.

        And I still have a sense of privacy (not so much of freedom because of all the rules and laws that don't make any sense, but that's a different topic). Not that it's any trouble having privacy online, just don't give out your info. I've probably got 20 different names I go by online, none of them close to my real name, or eachother. Which actually lets me bring up persona
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bitrex (859228)

        Every generation believes that it knows better than the previous generation, and that certain social institutions are the way that they are simply because no one has ever tried anything different. History of course tells a different story, but those uncomfortable facts are conveniently overlooked. Would a society which is informationally "transparent" really lead to a society which is more polite? As an anecdotal experience, I had a violent childhood where the number of people whom I could trust could be

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DNS-and-BIND (461968)
        Actually, a gender and color-blind society, built on freedom and transparency would be one of the worst possible things to happen. Would Obama have been elected if the press hadn't focused on his race?

        "The study of history is a powerful antidote to contemporary arrogance. It is humbling to discover how many of our glib assumptions, which seem to us novel and plausible, have been tested before, not once but many times and in innumerable guises; and discovered to be, at great human cost, wholly false."
        --

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by blhack (921171)

        [quote]My generation isn't stupid. They know what they're doing -- they're creating a transparent society where we can all be a bit more polite to one another because everyone has dirt on everyone else[/quote]

        No.

        Your (mine too) generatrion isn't STUPID, they're ignorant. They literally do not understand that when they upload their photos to their "private" profile, there is nothing to prevent me, or you, or anybody else from writing a perl scrip that walks through all of my "friends" downloading all of the

    • ...what if you go for a job and they recognise you from a site you have nothing to do with called bustedpartysluts.com?

      If I recognize an applicant from bustedpartysluts.com, she's almost certainly going to be hired.

    • by zuperduperman (1206922) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @10:12PM (#28823595)

      You know what is sad? It's not going to end like that. It's going to end instead with so many high profile people getting burned (read: sons and daughters of politicians) that they will use it as propaganda to introduce laws to control / regulate / filter / disable the internet as we know it today. You'll have to be licensed to run a web site. Compulsory training. Mandatory insurance. Complex data security and logging laws that make it so burdensome to operate a simple web site that it will retreat to being something only possible for big corporations and beauracracies to do. You can already see it starting in the EU but that is just the tip of the iceberg.

    • I personally cannot WAIT for the coverage of the 2032 presidential elections, when the robot housing Wolf Blitzer's disembodied head appears on our holovision to read the headlines: "Today it was revealed that presidential candidate Picklecopter, Senator from New Space Mexico, posted on his MySpace page in 2009, 'Dude, Troy's kegger was the shit last night. I nailed that hot chick from econ class...she was so hammered I don't think she even remembers it!' More on that breaking story after this report on th
    • by 1u3hr (530656)
      what will happen when facebook goes into decline and cash dries up, and they start selling pictures to porn sites

      Why would any porn site pay a cent for millions of low res snapshots of nobodies, almost all fully clothed, overweight, pimply etc?

  • by a whoabot (706122) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @06:08PM (#28822041)

    Read the terms of service [facebook.com].

    When you sign up you agree to the terms of service, which clearly says you grant Facebook an unlimited, worldwide licence to use anything you post on Facebook. Unfortunately, no reads it!

    • by Nossie (753694)

      /. preview: no one reads it!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by edman007 (1097925)

      Yea, grant Facebook and unlimited license, I would not consider this license to extend to facebooks affiliates/advertisers. The issue is that its not facebook using it, they gave your IP to advertisers, and the ToS does not appear to give facebook the right to sell the unlimited license to anyone they please, but IANAL, so what do i know.

      • by Vetala (1543063) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @07:22PM (#28822633)
        Well, actually, they do say a "[...] transferable, sub-licensable [...] license", so yes, they are asking to extend it to other people (otherwise applications couldn't use it if they were (for example) posting your profile photo in a competitive ladder, or perhaps Facebook uses a 3rd party caching server).

        HOWEVER, they do also say that it is "subject to your privacy and application settings" which puts a fair limit on what they are allowed to do with it - basically it says who they or anyone to whom they sub-license can only use it in ways that your privacy settings allow (which along with all their other terms basically says that you don't need to worry about advertisers using - or even having - your information unless the advertiser isn't following the rules).
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Indeed. An unlimited license, a license the doesn't limit their ability to re-sell rights. Unlimited is a big word in a contract.
    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Right, they have full permission to do this. But remember, truth doesn't always make interesting headlines.

  • Lord almighty. As usual with Facebook controversies, you can very easily opt out of this and never have your photo used by an advertiser.

    And of course, Facebook is not mandatory, it's something that you choose to be part of.

    And of course, why in hell do so many people post illegal or embarrassing items to a fairly public and insecure site?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mdwh2 (535323)

      As usual with Facebook controversies, you can very easily opt out of this and never have your photo used by an advertiser.

      You can't just assume you have permission - any contract like this must be opt in.

      And of course, Facebook is not mandatory, it's something that you choose to be part of.

      What if the terms are changed retroactively, to photos you already uploaded?

      What if you're not on Facebook and someone uploads a photo of you, that then gets used in an advert?

      And of course, why in hell do so many people

    • As usual with Facebook controversies, you can very easily opt out of this and never have your photo used by an advertiser.

      I'm not sure that you really can opt out. The terms of service says "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". Facebook makes no guarantees about what privacy and application settings will be provided so anything you put up is liable (perhaps accidentally) to end up being made available with no limitations.

      The real question is do you tr

  • by Vetala (1543063) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @06:20PM (#28822177)
    Okay, first off, the article has a follow-up posted at the top of it saying they made a mistake and were corrected. But for the interest of people who would rather read comments than articles, here's what I've been telling everyone on Facebook who keeps passing around this foolishness:

    First off, the claim that Facebook is allowing 3rd party advertisers to use people's photos isn't quite the case. In fact, Facebook Terms of Service (http://www.facebook.com/terms.php) state (section 10.2) "We do not give your content to advertisers."

    Yes, Facebook may pair up your name and profile photo with an ad that gets sent to your friends, and yes, that can be blocked with the option mentioned in the message going around (Settings->Privacy->"News Feed and Wall"->"Facebook Ads" and select "No One" - or this link might work to get you there faster, since I'm feeling useful http://www.facebook.com/privacy/?view=feeds&tab=ads [facebook.com] )

    This is not, however, 3rd party advertisers using your photo. Section 15 of the advertising guidelines for Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/ad_guidelines.php) state that an ad won't even be accepted if the advertiser is using photos for which they don't own copyright.

    Now for the useful: A Facebook application that has not been authorized by you or a friend cannot access any information about you other than what's in your public search listing. This means, though, that if you have a public search listing displaying your photo, an unscrupulous advertiser could get your profile photo.

    Any application you have authorized will be able to access information it requires to work. Definition of "requires to work" may vary. If you play a lot of 3rd party Facebook games, or do a lot of those quizzes going around, remember to check the Privacy Policies and Terms of Use for the application if your worried (or if you're really worried, don't do them).

    Any application your friends have authorized may be able to access any information about you (on behalf of your friend) that your friend can access. To limit what the applications can see, go to Settings->Privacy->Applications and go to the Settings tab (or have another link http://www.facebook.com/privacy/?view=platform&tab=other [facebook.com] ).

    http://www.allfacebook.com/2009/07/downloadsquad-and-facebook-users-get-confused-about-facebooks-advertising-policy/ [allfacebook.com] pointed out what more likely happened and downloadsquad corrected their position.

    And apparently, as jdigital noted already, even the official facebook blog says that's what happened. So yeah, if you've posted stuff online, somebody may take it and abuse it.. but no, it wasn't Facebook's doing in this case. RTF....Retraction?
  • by tetrahedrassface (675645) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @06:22PM (#28822189) Journal
    Sometimes the fine print has things in there that you need to watch for. I use Facebook. I like Facebook. It lets me keep up with friends who don't happen to be geeks and use it as their primary communication tool. What I don't like is not having an option on my images I upload to choose a Creative Commons license. I wish I could do that, although the TOS pretty much says once you upload to FaceBook they own it. And that in itself is pretty damn restrictive and maybe not really legal.

    So please Facebook, just put all the creative commons license choices on there, and the problem is solved

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Z80xxc! (1111479)

      Actually, facebook modified their terms recently, such that their rights to materials you upload expire if you choose to terminate your facebook account. I agree that it's still not good to grant them that right at all, even if it's not forever though.

      What I tend to do is this: photos of people I know and which people will likely want to be tagged in and discuss I upload to facebook. Photos of scenery, vacation photos (without people), wildlife photography, etc, I post to Flickr. Facebook has an option on

      • by a whoabot (706122) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @06:50PM (#28822393)

        "Actually, facebook modified their terms recently, such that their rights to materials you upload expire if you choose to terminate your facebook account. I agree that it's still not good to grant them that right at all, even if it's not forever though."

        Not exactly [facebook.com]:

        "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 (except to the extent your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it)."

        Of whom does "others" consist? I don't know.

    • I think the main reason for the "We own yer shit dude", is not because they intend on printing it out and selling it at a Gallery, or using it any other way similar, but simply that if they didn't have that clause, someone would inevitably try and sue them with shit like "which server is my photo sitting on? I never gave you permission to put it on that server", or for that matter, which State the server resides in, or even country for that matter. Also depending on your settings, almost all of what your Fr

  • Did everyone with a facebook account not notice this months ago, or did they really think that their random facebook friends really did love using DirectMediComCo for their Viagra prescription?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Seumas (6865)

      You see advertisements? Why aren't you using adblock like the rest of us?

      Until this whole ordeal, I didn't even realize Facebook *had* ads.

  • facebook has a history of bowing to user pressures.

    They will reverse this within the week.

  • They use the faces of people who are in my FRIENDS LIST, and the whole thing is a cellphone scam, where you take the dopey IQ test, then to get your results, you have to give them the number to your cellphone which then gets billed (x) dollars. So, FUCK facebook and their excuses as to how they don't give pictures to 3rd parties. they don't INSOFAR as other people should not be able to use images for billboards etc. HOWEVER: if your advert is specifically within the facebook universe, they've got you.

    I tu

  • Oh yeah. (Score:2, Funny)

    by gigabites2 (1484115)
    From TFA

    ... it means that your married face could end up on a sexy singles ad...

    Where do I sign?

  • by shish (588640)
    Somewhat worrying is that on a site completely unrelated to facebook (osdir, some random mailing list archive google pointed me to), I saw an ad mentioning the name and photo that I use, inviting me to "zoosk" whatever that is -- I'm quite aware that my name and a photo (not actually of me) are visible in all sorts of public listings and search results, but I'm somewhat confused as to how an advertising network is matching facebook accounts to IP addresses (a legal query as much as a technical one)...
  • Honey? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PPH (736903) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @10:02PM (#28823541)

    "What is your photo doing on an on-line dating site?"

    "Honey. What ate you doing looking through on-line dating sites?"

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