“At LinkedIn, we Commit to respecting your stuff,” titled “Who Owns Your Content? you do. They continued: “Therefore, we will always ask for your permission before using your content in other companies’ advertisements, publications or websites. “
This should go without saying. Our content may not be used in third-party advertising without our knowledge or consent. Social media sites should not use the content we post for commercial reasons that we do not intend.
However, from a legal perspective, social media sites do have broad rights to use any information you provide. “You own your content,” promises Twitter Terms of Service, followed by a long paragraph granting Twitter the right to use, adapt, share and distribute your content worldwide. Likewise, TikTok claims to have an “unconditional, irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty-free, fully transferable, worldwide perpetual license” to your content. Not only does Instagram require a broad license for your content, but it also requires you to display usernames, photos, likes, and relationships associated with third-party ads.
Social media sites like YouTube and TikTok can also charge users to access your videos without violating any laws or their own terms of service. Or screen your video at their exclusive film festival. Or publish a book with your status updates. Or set up an art gallery to showcase your photos. Imagine Twitter University, where users pay to access (unpaid) expert curated content. It can offer courses in art history or screenwriting or user interface design by collecting existing comments, links, videos and photos without user permission or compensation. You may not even know your content is included. All this is completely legal.
Social media companies can’t alienate creators and business partners, so YouTube may not be producing its own film festival with user-generated content anytime soon. And Snapchat probably won’t make and sell music tracks featuring your voice. Although they can.
The main force controlling social media companies is market pressure — and market changes. When the risk-benefit calculation changes, they can make money in new ways without losing too many users or sponsors, and social media sites don’t need your permission. They already have.
general law Disapprove of “stick contracts,” in which the stronger party sets the terms and the weaker party sticks to it. However, side contracts are allowed in business-to-consumer transactions because the business cannot be expected to negotiate with each customer. Customers have two sources of leverage: their market power (if they don’t like the deal, they can walk away) and consumer protection laws that prohibit deceptive or unfair business practices.
Social media companies, especially established companies with huge user bases like Facebook, have a hard time leaving. Users who have invested years in building a network and a lot of content will lose too much: mementos of life milestones, personal and professional connections, archives of creative work with fan responses. Facebook users have repeatedly threatened to boycott or #DeleteFacebook in the wake of the recent controversy, but the site’s user numbers are still rising year over year.
With limited market power, social media users can only rely on consumer protection against fraudulent or unfair practices. These are intentionally vague terms designed to adapt to changing markets across industries. By definition, deceptive and unfair trade practices depend on a judge’s assessment of reasonableness and relative interest. Both are subjective and context dependent.