Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Wow. Facebook Rules Prohibit Users From Promoting Their Work, Company, And Much, Much More...

Posted by Tom Foremski - February 8, 2012

Have you seen Facebook's rules for users, developers, and partners? They give Facebook tremendous powers to disable accounts and to make money from your content. Here are a few examples, you can see more here in this SEC document filed late Wednesday:

- You will not use your personal profile for your own commercial gain (such as selling your status update to an advertiser).

- You will not send or otherwise post unauthorized commercial communications (such as spam) on Facebook.


Lots of people post about their company, promotional programs, or links to articles they've written. There is clearly a commercial gain in these profile updates. Anything related to your work, company products and services, etc, could be classified as spam.

This places many hundreds of thousands, if not millions of users in violation of this rule and subject to having their account terminated.

- If we disable your account, you will not create another one without our permission.

Also:

- You will keep your contact information accurate and up-to-date.

And you have no right to your name if it is similar to a trademark.

- If you select a username for your account we reserve the right to remove or reclaim it if we believe appropriate.

And:

- You will not tag users or send email invitations to non-users without their consent.

You have to get prior consent to send non-Facebook users an invite?

Clearly, many of these rules aren't easily enforceable but they provide Facebook with plenty of potential reasons to disable virtually any account. For example, who hasn't sent an invite to a non-Facebook user?

You can be in violation of the user agreement for not updating your cell phone number within two days:

- In the event you change or deactivate your mobile telephone number, you will update your account information on Facebook within 48 hours...

Be careful, you could lose important rights to your own content. If you place Facebook's share button on any web page you give Facebook the rights to use that content on Facebook, even if no one actually shares your content! Facebook has the right to license that content to anyone it wants and to make money from it!

... 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


If you have created a Facebook application, watch out if it's successful:

- We can create applications that offer similar features and services to, or otherwise compete with, your application.

The takeaway is: beware if you use Facebook for commercial purposes of any kind. You could lose important rights to your intellectual property and inadvertently assume new liabilities that leave you vulnerable to legal and financial claims.


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