The Media is a consuming factor of modern-day life; heavily influencing aspects of our social, political and economic every-day dynamics, but who actually owns this mass communication device? The ACMA’s media interests snapshot (above) shows the majority of media ownership and control in Australia to be attributed to a select few individuals. This monopoly over the media, by such a select and unvaried a group of people, could prove detrimental to media audiences and the media itself, due to the power the media holds in shaping social perspectives and beliefs. This allows for these “owners” to easily obstruct the media’s diverse and (ideally) objective perspective; using its social influence to manipulate media audiences. However, these issues of media ownership force us to question who owns the content we provide on media platforms; in particular, social media platforms such as Facebook.
We use media platforms and their services so frequently it is almost to the extent of total reliance. However, very few of us realise the mass of information we provide the those who own/control these platforms in return, and the lack of rights we actually have concerning our information and intellectual property. For instance, Facebook’s help page denotes that, whilst we retain copyright to intellectual property we upload (such as videos, images etc.), by agreeing to Facebook’s terms and services, however, we grant it “a license to use and display that content” (Help Centre, 2015). Whilst this may not seem like much of a threat to ownership of our intellectual property, a further analysis of its ‘statement of rights and responsibilities’ in their terms of service contract in fact reveals that, whilst we do retain ownership of content and information we post, Facebook can do just about whatever it pleases with our Intellectual property, as we grant it “a non-exclusive, transferable, sub license-able, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook”(Terms of Service, 2015). Basically, this effectively means Facebook can license our content to businesses/other media platforms, without our consent or compensation. Likewise, a similar rule goes for platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. Oliver Smith from ‘The Telegraph’ states that by agreeing to these terms and conditions we effectively give the owners of these platforms “almost total control over the image and the ability to do just about anything with it.” (Smith, 2013). Now, you may be thinking “what’s the big deal?”, I mean, we can always just delete this information, right? Wrong. In addition to claiming rights to use our intellectual property however they please, these social media platforms, such as Facebook, also reserve the right to make copies of our content. Facebook’s terms of service (2015) further state, even if you delete the content or our account, their IP license does not end if the content has been shared with friends/ one of Facebook’s applications (with their own terms of service e.g. Instagram) and not been deleted.
However, it doesn’t stop there; Facebook also uses likes, posts, comments, “private” messages and even those comments/messages you began typing up but reconsidered half way through, to discern statistical information. Facebook Help Center’s (Help Center, 2015) claims it “doesn’t share information with advertising partners or advertisers that personally identifies you”. However, in his ‘Huffpost Live’ interview, technology reporter Tim Stenovec highlights where in Facebook’s ‘Terms of Service’ contract it explicitly reserves rights to “sell the power of your profile to brands and companies” (Scherker, 2014). Stenovec further remarks that, in addition to the information intentionally provided to Facebook, it also knows everything from who you’re “Facebook stalking”, to what your favourite brands are and even your activities off Facebook. It is further from this acquired knowledge, Stenovec concludes, Facebook and data brokers can “figure out how much money you make, race and ethnicity, where you live, what your planning to purchase…”. However, it is not only Facebook that does this. Google’s own privacy page (What Data Does Google Collect?, 2015) actually lists the type of data it collects on its users such as; the emails we send/receive, adds we pay attention to, device information, videos we watch, our location, our passwords and who we contact.
These Media platform’s collection and storage of data, statistical information and Intellectual property of their users is a habitual reality of our modern day, technology based society. However, we must question where the line should be drawn between statistical analysis and breach of privacy. Moreover, there seems to be an apparent need to re-define a user’s ownership of their intellectual property and when the boundaries of Intellectual theft have been breached by these media platforms/their owners.
30/01/2015, ‘Do I retain the copyright and other legal rights to material I upload to Facebook‘, Facebook, viewed 31/03/2016, https://www.facebook.com/help/193430577370347
30/01/2015, ‘Statement of Rights and Responsibilities‘, Facebook, viewed 31/03.2016 https://www.facebook.com/terms
Oliver Smith, 2013, ‘Facebook Terms and Conditions: why you don’t own your online life‘, The Telegraph, 4th of January, viewed 21/03/2016 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/social-media/9780565/Facebook-terms-and-conditions-why-you-dont-own-your-online-life.html
30/01/2015 ‘Does Facebook sell my information?‘, Facebook, viewed 31/03/2016 https://www.facebook.com/help/152637448140583
Scherker, 2014, ‘Didn‘t Read Facebook’s Fine Print? Here’s Why You Should‘, online video, 21st of July, Huffington Post, viewed 31/03/2016 http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/facebook-terms-condition_n_5551965.html?section=australia
2015, ‘Here are the maon types of information we collect‘, Google, viewed 31/03/2016, https://privacy.google.com.au/data-we-collect.html
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