Facebook users upset by change in terms of use

February 17, 2009
The Baltimore Sun

© The Baltimore Sun. Article by Meredith Cohn ([email protected] ) and Sam Sessa [email protected].

David Sturgill has posted his cell phone number, personal e-mail address and work information on his Facebook page and now wonders whether that was a good idea.

The 32-year-old, who lives in Fells Point, has been using the social networking Internet site for two years, but since he learned this week of the company's change in its terms of use, he worries about what Facebook could do with the information.

Facebook quietly changed the terms this month but users became aware of it — and some outraged by it — when the popular Consumerist blog posted about it this week and got tens of thousands of hits.

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Facebook will not own the information, contrary to Web rumors, but the change could still have broad implications, said Mark McCreary, an intellectual property attorney at the law firm Fox Rothschild LLP in Philadelphia. For example, a photographer who stops using Facebook still owns his photos, but he's given license to the site to use them after he goes on to become famous.

"Selling a photograph would appear to be outside of the permitted 'promotion' use in the terms of service," McCreary said. "Using the photo for an ad or promotion clearly appears to be permitted."