You may not have participated in a blood ritual sacrifice, and you also may not have sworn your firstborn to a warlock. However, chances are if you spend any time on Facebook, Twitter, or Google, then you have already handed over a great deal of your life over to the Internet.
Sure, on the surface they may have cute pictures of birds and silly pokes from friends, but don’t be fooled, dear readers. The Internet can be evil, and we’re here to make you aware of its malevolent side. Don’t say we don’t do anything for you.
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 unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.
It’s simple – if you put photos and videos up on Facebook, the website could always give them to other entities (maybe for profit). Facebook isn’t doing that (yet), so have no worries right now, and chances are if you delete it, then the content might no longer be up for grabs. However, if you simply deactivate your account, you may have something to worry about.
When you deactivate an account, no user will be able to see it, but it will not be deleted. We save your profile information (connections, photos, etc.) in case you later decide to reactivate your account.
To be clear, it might be better to delete your account instead of deactivating it if you don’t plan on coming back. Also, check your privacy settings and make sure that people you don’t know can’t download your photos.
Twitter has a sweet-sounding brand name, and its powder-blue user interface dotted with innocent-looking birds could make even the burliest of lumberjacks say, “Aww.” However, there might be one part of the terms of service that you may have skipped over.
By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).
Here we have a very similar agreement to Facebook, but this is based only on your tweets. What on earth could Twitter do with those?
You agree that this license includes the right for Twitter to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals who partner with Twitter for the syndication, broadcast, distribution or publication of such Content on other media and services, subject to our terms and conditions for such Content use.
What does this mean? Well, your angry Tweet about your “dumb neighbor who always mows his lawn too short” could end up on the national news, and there’s nothing that you can do about it. Sadly, this could be the case with even a protected account, and if you look further down the terms, you’ll see that Twitter can modify your material as they please.
Ever since Google+ dished out its “real name” policy – which is quite similar to a certain Marvel-related registration act – there has been concern over how Google can ban your account. This isn’t the only way to get shut down, so that makes me personally worried. My Google account is tied to my Blogger publication, my Google Docs, my Gmail, and my YouTube channel.
Google offers location-enabled services, such as Google Maps and Latitude. If you use those services, Google may receive information about your actual location (such as GPS signals sent by a mobile device) or information that can be used to approximate a location (such as a cell ID).
Although this section potentially has good intentions, we see that Google can track your location based on your phone. It reminds me a great deal of that movie, Enemy of the State. The company could be watching you at any time, so remember when you lied to your mother-in-law about not being able to come over with the wife for dinner? Google knows what you you were doing instead.
This company’s motto may be “don’t be evil”, but even the Jedi had a code of conduct. Just look at what happened to Anakin Skywalker.
These are the “Big Three” when it comes to giving up your identity rights on the Internet, and with so many agreements that they require for usage of their services, the Internet can be a scary environment. Even if it means using CTRL+F for key words, always remember to look at the terms of service.
What other ways have you sold your soul to the Internet? Do you know of any other shady TOS agreements?