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Facebook: A question


A very sad story in The Daily Telegraph today (an article by Ian McPhedran), and I am concerned about how we handle social network ethics when it comes to a loss in the community and what happens to the content created by that member.

David Pearce

Facebook via Daily Telegraph: Loved life… David Pearce with his wife Nicole.

DAVID Pearce’s Facebook site tells the moving story of a devoted husband and a loving dad – who now won’t be coming home to his family.

The 41-year-old soldier’s piercing blue eyes glow with love for Nicole, his wife of 18 years, and their daughters Stephanie, 11, and Hannah, 6.

Photographs show Trooper Pearce in typical day-to-day scenes involving family outings and quiet weekends at home.

In one image he is proudly showing off a large fish caught during a boating trip.

In another, he sits on a motorbike in the driveway of a suburban home.

A theme of the pictures is the loving bond he shared with his wife and children.

A grieving Nicole Pearce yesterday used her own Facebook site to post one of her favourite pictures of her and David staring lovingly into each other’s eyes – while the girls happily ignore the lovebirds – at a farewell function when he went to the Solomon Islands.

The caption read: “We as a family are so proud of our Davey baby”.

Am I being paranoid or is there a hint here that this information and personal fotos were lifted directly from Facebook, without the express action/permission of the family involved?? Is this album available to people who are not in the Australia network? Or not on Facebook? If the member creates a gated community and guards the gate, should the press be able to print fotos externally to that? Should I, as a blogger, be able to copy and paste private fotos, just because I share that network/gated community? In the past, the press would have to knock on doors asking for private information to furnish the front page of the paper – now they do a quick social search on Flickr or Facebook. How do you feel about that? Maybe it’s not important.. maybe we’ve already lost our privacy…

For the record, I don’t want my personal information and photos published, ok? I better change the Creative Commons Copyright I guess.

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

17 thoughts on “Facebook: A question

  1. @Stil, if they set the privacy to “only my network and my friends”, then it IS gated, even if the wall is around Facebook members in Australia. My profile is now for my friends only. Facebook may take a stand in the future to stop the press from raiding fotos. So might Flickr.

    @Cat there was a guy who blogged “my sister’s ex has arrived, I’m going to make him wait downstairs”. When the blogger was found murdered, the ex said they hadn’t visited him – not knowing the guy had already blogged that they were there, waiting (presumably to murder the blogger).
    And I wrote a post on here a year ago about “digital graveyards” and an earlier post about Forgotten Babylons – what happens when people die to their blogs and content.

    @Mike yes, I thought long and hard before posting that foto hence my question about “should I as a blogger…”. I often post screenshots of my social network and try to be careful of who’s personal information from those communities gets caught up in my ravings.

    My main motivation in writing this blog is to try and identify issues that people may not have thought about before and that I have seen escalate. I remember years ago a guy telling someone in “private” chat that he was gay and having aids and the person copying and pasting that “private” conversation to the forums. Just like companies, we assume privacy and control when there is none.

  2. @Stil – nope. It’s locked. If you aren’t on Facebook you can’t see it at all. And if you aren’t on his network you get this profile – I have an account that is not on the Australian network. Maybe it’s not a clear line, but we assume that the person seeing the fotos is a)on Facebook and therefore is part of the facebook “culture” or tribe and b)is on our Australia network. Not the whole world and front page of the press. I will read through the terms of use and terms of service for Facebook later this afternoon – hosts really need to agree to help protect our consumer created media in some way – the industry organisations clearly aren’t going to…

    My other post was “diaries of the dead” – how the blogs of the dead will outnumber the living.

  3. Three aspects to this:

    1. In many jurisdictions there’s a “fair use” provision in copyright law which allows reproduction for reportage and academic work. I’ve forgotten offhand how that was fiddled with when Australia signed up to the US Free Trade Agreement, but perhaps this is OK legally thanks to that.

    2. I don’t think you can call Facebook a “gated community” when there’s millions of people behind the gate and anyone can sign up. Now that Facebook has opened up profiles to Google searches (unless the user explicitly turns that off), then a profile is essentially “published” and #1 applies.

    3. This is commercial tabloid news. There’s an imperative to have a new “humanising” image before The Other Guys. In most cases the risk assessment will be “publish first, deal with apologies and compensation later, if required”.

    You’ve also spotted the Really Big Flaw with most people’s use of Creative Commons licensing: they don’t think through the implications.

    Classic example: The girl from Texas who didn’t like her face appearing in a Virgin Mobile ad. That case is actually messier, because it wasn’t the photographer who uploaded her image to Flickr, but another church group member.

    Another (hypothetical) example: A member of an African community group uploads pictures from a family picnic under a CC non-commercial license. A non-commercial user, the Ku Klux Klan, uses those pictures to show how the blacks are taking over the town. All perfectly legal, but probably not something the originators want.

  4. the post has brought up another issue with personal profiles on the web. What happens to your profile when you die?

    After 9/11, bereaving relatives would listen to voice mails messages, just to hear them again. Later these messages where saved as mementos (mori)

    Like telegraph poles covered in flowers, the web has a place for the recently passed. Their blogs and profiles add a dimension of life: maintaining a shadow of existence.

    Sophie Delizio’s site, as a result of her second accident, her wishing site turned into condolence messages for Steve Irwin, etc (hat tip: laurel..oh, that’s you) http://www.wishesfor.com/site/

    are profiles the new virtual gravesite ?

  5. So one might ask if you solicited approval for the photo of the Pearces that you posted on your own site.

    Creative Commons is probably the best solution for making known the usage rights on publicly available content – but it is far from perfect. It is often ignored by folks looking for a particular image content (say on google images) and just grabbing a copy – totally out of context from the physical page where the rights are enumerated.

    At present, there aren’t a lot of ways to track copyright on image content. It might be present on the original site, but is not for instance added to the meta info on the image search engines (except to say that ‘this item may be subject to copyright’, but they say this about *all* image content – even that which has no restriction).

    Digital watermarks have been used by stock photo houses, but even these can be easily photoshopped away.

    Don’t even get me started on DRM…

    The issue turns out to be primarily one of ethics. And as we know, ethics is hard to define and even harder to regulate.

  6. “What happens to your profile when you die?”

    Presumably, like any other property, you have to make your own arrangements for what happens after your death.

    Of course, the family ritual of Grannie May showing all the grandchildren where the shoebox of wedding photos is hidden is already part of our culture. Stashing the Facebook and Flickr passwords isn’t.

    An online profile is different, a there has to be an on-going process to keep the servers running. Maybe Facebook et at could offer a “we serve you forever” option for a nominal fee.

    OTOH, this is no different from leasing a gravesite or crematorium niche. You have to renew that lease or your loved one’s bones or ashes go missing.

    @Laurel: David Pearce’s profile is open, at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=583808387 so it’s a moot point.

  7. Hmmm… Facebook’s Australia network is still 769,219 people. I reckon that making your imagery freely available to that close-knit circle would count as public. At least News Limited’s lawyers would say so, and to anyone taking them on… Good luck!

    At this point I should probably point out that I’m not saying any of this is desirable, merely that this is the framework we’re working in. There’s a difference between describing something and supporting it. 😉

    I suspect most people still don’t get the reality of their “personal stuff” being visible to so many people when they put it online. But is it Facebook’s role to teach them The New Common Sense? After all, it’s not Ford’s job to tell you that driving your car into a tree may hurt.

  8. >> Just like companies, we assume privacy and control when there is none.

    I learned this lesson early on. You can search the net right now and find the remnants of flame wars that I had long ago on gated|private mailing lists – that are now being publicly preserved as part of Internet history. At Netscape, I was a frequent contributor to ‘bad-attitude’ – an infamous confidential internal mailing list/newsgroup where we ranted about all manner of idiots and idiotic things – and is quite libelous/slanderous. This archive was subpoenaed by Microsoft during the lawsuits following the browser wars and is now in the public domain.

    As Scott McNealy (Sun CEO) once said – “You’ve already lost your privacy. Get over it.”

  9. Aye, there’s stuff from the ’80’s UseNet NewsGroups now on Google archives where I got into an Apple vs IBM flame war. I still think I was right. 😛

    About 5 years ago, I asked a member of a community I was moderating, why he had posted up personal information e.g. email address and real name (it used to be against most communities CoC to reveal personal info) – he said something like: I already know that companies have this information and use it to their own (marketing) benefit, so why shouldn’t my friends have the same access?

    Scott McNealy said the same thing… only several years later. 🙂

  10. @Stilgherrian, be a hon -I’m busy 😛 – and check Facebook’s Terms and Privacy Statements? There should be a clause that says “What goes on Facebook stays on Facebook”. That would put our journo friends up paddle-less up a creek… wouldn’t it?

  11. On the other hand, you can say that another evolution is that people’s notions of privacy are changing. Does Pearce’s family care that the Daily Telegraph lifted bits out of his (and her) profile? Or did they want what is on their profile to have as much coverage as possible?

    The egocentric model of social network sites like Facebook feeds into our need (consciously or not) to be noticed.

    As a result, perhaps there will come a time when people would only want to post things that they want to escalate for greater coverage.

    And no doubt we may be surprised at what ordinary people would want everyone to know.

    oh and part of the Facebook privacy:

    “You post User Content (as defined in the Facebook Terms of Use) on the Site at your own risk. Although we allow you to set privacy options that limit access to your pages, please be aware that no security measures are perfect or impenetrable. We cannot control the actions of other Users with whom you may choose to share your pages and information. Therefore, we cannot and do not guarantee that User Content you post on the Site will not be viewed by unauthorized persons. We are not responsible for circumvention of any privacy settings or security measures contained on the Site. You understand and acknowledge that, even after removal, copies of User Content may remain viewable in cached and archived pages or if other Users have copied or stored your User Content.

    Any improper collection or misuse of information provided on Facebook is a violation of the Facebook Terms of Service and should be reported to privacy@facebook.com.”

  12. Yes, Laurel, I am not busy at all, and I am your personal slave. 😉

    From the Facebook Terms of Use:

    “No Site Content may be modified, copied, distributed, framed, reproduced, republished, downloaded, displayed, posted, transmitted, or sold in any form or by any means, in whole or in part, without the Company’s prior written permission, except that the foregoing does not apply to your own User Content (as defined below) that you legally post on the Site.”

    An earlier sentence makes it clear that user content is included in this.

    I was about to say that this seems reasonable, and it does. But then I discovered this one (my emphasis):

    “By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content.”

    That is, out anything on the site and Facebook can re-use it for promotional purposes. Or indeed any other purposes. Anything. Any time. Anywhere.

    So your “personal stuff” is private to you and your friends only — as well as to anyone Facebook wants to give it to. Choice.

  13. This might be of interest to you:

    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/archive/17/rosen.htm

    – TCG

  14. @stilgyeee Noiiiice. Not entirely unexpected. Most sites have something similar. Only recently did MySpace and Google/YouTube change their ToS from “all yr stuffz belongz to us” to something fairer. Not aware of another site than Flickr that really focusses on Creative Commons.

    @TCG ugh. not a fan of Ms Negativity, Christine Rosen. First came across her in 2004 with the “egocasting” stuff – remember that? There’s a tonne of good things in social networks, but she struggles to find ’em. Still, it’s what her demographic/readership want to hear.

    I’ve no clue what you lot want to hear, so I just phaff around. 😛

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