Every social networking site you join has a terms of service (TOS); but how many people really take the time to read that page (or two) of long boring legal-ease? Most likely, not that many.
Even if you did skim over it, or read it, certain aspects of it would not really have meaning for you – until a situation would arise that would bring it all to light. Such as the recent controversy over the use of personal names and photos in third-party advertising. While I blogged and provided the opt-out solution, what I really want to address today are two points:
1. What does Facebook’s terms of service really say about the issue of using our names and photos in ads
2. Is opting out via our privacy settings going to be enough to stop all third-party ads from using our information
Facebook Terms of Service
Here is a quote direct from Facebook’s TOS that specifically addresses this issue:
About Advertisements on Facebook
Our goal is to deliver ads that are not only valuable to advertisers, but also valuable to you. In order to do that, you agree to the following:
1. You can use your privacy settings to limit how your name and profile picture may be associated with commercial or sponsored content. You give us permission to use your name and profile picture in connection with that content, subject to the limits you place.
2. We do not give your content to advertisers.
3. You understand that we may not always identify paid services and communications as such.
We are told that we can use our privacy settings to limit how our name and content is used and then the very next line tells it all “You give us permission to use your name and profile picture in connection with that content, subject to the limits you place.”
It is because of that line in their TOS that I wrote my previous blog post on this issue with instructions on how to opt-out of Facebook third-part ads. The TOS indicate that our privacy settings “limit” Facebook’s actions in this area.
I would like to take all this wording at face value (no pun intended) and assume that words like ‘limit’ and ‘may’ are simply grammatical phrasings and not subtle implications of possible variances from our privacy settings. Which brings me to my point number two.
I was reading a blog post over at AllFacebook.com on this very topic and they brought up a good point. While Facebook has stated that advertisers do not have permission to use our photos without permission, even though Facebook has right themselves to use our name and photo (unless we opt-out in our privacy settings), the advertisers could choose to bypass Facebook and obtain photos via Google directly, should they so choose to.
So I see this as possibly a situation of “how closely ad network advertisements are being monitored by Facebook”. Two ad networks have been dismissed by Facebook for violating TOS – this is good; but is opting out via our privacy settings going to be enough?
This whole situation bears watching as it involves personal privacy and use of our names and photos – quite possibly without our knowledge or consent by third-party advertisers who may choose to circumvent the TOS and seek to obtain this information outside of Facebook. I can only hope Facebook will closely monitor all their advertisers and their ads and will remove those that violate their terms of service.
So here’s the bottom line question:
- Who is doing the cross checking to see if the ads that display names and photos of Facebook members have their privacy settings set to ‘No One’ (i.e. have opted out of ads) and therefore, that ad is in violation?
- With 250 million users, all with unique privacy settings in their profiles, how are advertisers going to know whose profile privacy setting is set to what?
- How is Facebook going to know and adequately convey this information to it’s advertisers?
If I check a box that says I want to opt-out, then I want out. No exceptions. I’m going to assume that none of my other personal information needs to be passed to advertisers in order for them to know that I’m on the opt-out list.
While I’m probably over here in my home office blogging about this and being all ‘PollyAnna’ and dreamin’ large; Facebook – can we also please have the option to choose what type of advertising we see in the sidebar of our page? Seeing scantily clad women in ads on my Facebook page does not appeal to me.
What do you think of Facebook’s terms of service and using your name and photo in advertising?
Do you think changing your privacy settings is going to be enough to prevent your name and photo from appearing in ads?
I’d love to hear your opinion on this – leave me a comment below.