Facebook Photos: Who owns my content?

We received a great question recently: Doesn’t Facebook own my photos?

It is a common misconception, that Facebook takes ownership of the content that you post, perpetuated by clickbait articles that encourage users to repost messages to their Timeline, claiming to protect you and your information.

Hoax Facebook Message
Example of hoax message

You Own Your Photos

Before you add this message as your own status: You still own the copyright to any photos you post on Facebook’s platform, and that is expressly stated in the terms and conditions you agree to when you sign up as a user.

Facebook Terms on Ownership of Content
Facebook’s Terms


Why is it easy to get confused about who owns your photos? You also agree, in the terms, that Facebook has a “non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license” to use your photos.

So Facebook has a license to use your photos, without paying or asking you, throughout the world. They can enter agreements with other companies to license your photos, and you are also allowed to license your photos to others (such as Instagram or Twitter.)

Licensing vs. Ownership

Why does Facebook require this license when you sign up? Imagine if every time someone searched your name, Facebook had to pay you a royalty fee to display your profile photo. Or, if every time you posted a picture to your timeline, Facebook had to get your express permission to show that to each of your friends. That wouldn’t be a very successful social network…

To be clear, giving Facebook a license to your photos does not give them copyright ownership of your photos. As long as it is content that you created, you are the sole owner of the copyright of those pictures and this is why copyright law is still valid to protect your Facebook pictures.

You Decide 

You have two key choices to make when controlling your content on Facebook. First, you can choose where your content will be available and who can see it by managing your privacy settings. Facebook’s license to display your content is limited based on these settings so they are an important tool to utilize.

If the broad license isn’t something you’re comfortable giving Facebook, you may also decide whether or not to delete your account entirely. After deleting your account, the license will end – but so will all of the benefits that you enjoy from having the account.

Either way, it is important to remember that you retain your rights as the copyright owner of any content you put on Facebook, and can exercise those rights if your content is found to be used without your permission.

Sign up for a FaceChex protection plan today to defend your online content.

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