How much of your personal brand do you own?
If you follow my advice, you spend a part of your daily routine building your personal brand on social media.
But did you know that what you share on those sites can be used in ways you can't imagine, let alone like?
Let's see which social network you might want to avoid from now on.
With Twitter, you retain the rights to any content you submit but by “submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).”
That's from Twitter's Terms of Service.
Facebook takes a similar stance. Their terms of service say “you own all of the content and information you post on Facebook” but continues with “for content that is covered by intellectual property rights … you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook.”
Continuing the trend, LinkedIn's User Agreement‘s section 2. B. states “you own the information you provide LinkedIn under this Agreement” … “Additionally, you grant LinkedIn a nonexclusive, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual, unlimited, assignable, sublicenseable, fully paid up and royalty-free right to us to copy, prepare derivative works of, improve, distribute, publish, remove, retain, add, process, analyze, use and commercialize, in any way now known or in the future discovered, any information you provide, directly or indirectly to LinkedIn, including, but not limited to, any user generated content, ideas, concepts, techniques or data to the services, you submit to LinkedIn, without any further consent, notice and/or compensation to you or to any third parties. Any information you submit to us is at your own risk of loss as noted in Sections 2 and 3 of this Agreement. ”
Talk about covering all the possibilities.
As a Google service, your Google+ usage is subject to Google's Terms of Service, which takes the same track as their above competitors when it says that “some of our Services allow you to submit content. You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content.” However it includes the condition that “when you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.”
“And those we work with”? Depending on how broad the interpretation, those five words could mean that many, many companies would be allowed to use your posted content.
The lawyer in this article explains it better than I can.
All the major social media networks have a similar policy where you retain ownership over what you post while allowing them to do pretty much whatever they like with your content, and not even pay you a cent if they decide to do something with it.
Before you regret being scooped by your own social media profile, concentrate your online personal branding around a web property that you fully own and to which you retain all the exclusive rights- namely, your personal website.
Get your own domain name and build your personal branding hub, while limiting your social media usage to connecting with people you would like to attract to your hub.
Question of the article
Is there a social network that you won't use? Tell us in the comments.
I originally published a version of this article on the terrific Personal Branding Blog.