Facebook Representative States They Own Uploaded Content

As photographers, we’ve all seen posts online with people wringing their hands worrying about Facebook’s newest Terms of Use saying we’re now going to lose copyrights to our works of art once we upload them to Facebook.  It’s always turned out to be a hoax. Turns out, it wasn’t a hoax – at least according to the email I just received directly from Facebook.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been dealing with an ongoing issue with posts to the Photo Stealers Facebook Page which I’ve documented a few times here.  The tl;dr version is that no matter what I post to the Photo Stealers Facebook Page, it gets deleted and I get banned (currently sitting on a 30 day ban for posting that I had brought the Photo Stealers page back).  I finally got in contact with someone at Facebook directly and she’s been looking into the issue for me over the past two weeks.  I finally received a reply today and my jaw has not left the floor since.

Facebook stating anything posted to it is Facebook's property

While most of the email is not really relevant to anyone but me there is one bit that affects EVERYONE that uses Facebook.

“…once something is posted or uploaded onto Facebook it becomes Facebook’s property. So if the original photographer uploaded the photo first onto Facebook and then others have taken it from there and uploaded it to their pages or profiles, this is legal and within policy, there’s nothing I can do about it unfortunately even if they are taking credit for the photos.”

I replied with “So, you are saying that any image I upload to Facebook is now Facebook’s property and anyone can steal it and so long as they are using Facebook they can do whatever they want with my copyrighted works?”

Mandy replied with the below email with a link to the Facebook policies and highlighted sections she believes were supporting her email but, in my opinion, these highlighted passages contradict her earlier statement that anything posted to Facebook is Facebook’s property.

Facebook copyright email

This isn’t someone who misread the newest TOS, this isn’t a lawyer digging in too deep.  This is a message, directly from Facebook stating that they own property once it’s uploaded to Facebook.  She goes on to say that anyone can do anything with this content and it is legal and within policy.  She also states in her emails she’s been in talks with a supervisor and the help center so this isn’t just from her.  Even if she and her supervisors are misinformed this is a HUGE problem if employees at Facebook not only think they own uploaded property but enforce this policy.

I’m not one to be a “Chicken Little” when it comes to things but this is NOT good for photograhers or the creative industry as a whole.

Update 05/12/15 @ 8:00PM

Facebook has responded on the Photo Stealers Facebook Page.

Matt here from Facebook. Sorry for the inconvenience you’ve had. First, we restored the content that was removed from your page in error.

In addition, as you originally suspected, the information given in these emails is incorrect. Our terms are clear that you own the content you share on Facebook, including photos. When you post something, you simply grant Facebook a license to use that content consistent with our terms, including displaying it to the audience you’ve shared it with.

We also prohibit people from posting content that violates someone else’s intellectual property rights. If a rights owner believes that content on Facebook violates their rights, they may report it to us. You can find more information about this topic here: https://www.facebook.com/help/249141925204375

I’ve also been told that I can start posting to the Facebook Page again for Photo Stealers and my personal account has been restored.  Matt stated in the post that he will look into any bans resulting from posts about Photo Stealers.

While this doesn’t give me many answers regarding everything I’ve been going through, I’m glad to hear that my hunch was right and the Facebook Employee (and her supervisors as well as the Help Center) were misinformed regarding Facebook’s policies on copyrighted works uploaded to their website.

Thank you Facebook!

  • Ric New

    This information has been out for a while now. They can even sell the image if they wanted too (if memory serves me correctly).

  • BobCoolTX

    Funny how their TOU doesn’t address publishing OTHER PEOPLE’S IP, like photos and videos. So, according to their TOU, I could go find photos by Ansel Adams online, download them to my PC, then upload them to my fb feed and claim them as mine. Furthermore, Facebook has a royalty-free worldwide license to those photos and they can do whatever they want with them? Crazy.

    • Photo Stealers

      … and if Ansel were still alive and on Facebook he’s not permitted to go on Facebook and say “Hey BobCoolTX is using my images in his portfolio and they are my own works” because THAT is the violation of their policies NOT the stolen images. At least per the email from Facebook anyway.

      • Celine (peaceetc)

        Isn’t that what a DMCA takedown request is for? I’ve had to use DMCA’s on Facebook before, but I’ve always pointed to Flickr or my web site to prove the images were mine. If I were to point to the same photo posted on Facebook as proof, would my claim be denied?

      • Justin Case

        Ansel would totally be sitting on a 30-day ban right now…

  • Jason Dufair

    The representative is incorrect. The published policy indicates that they are granted a license when the image is uploaded. That does not mean it becomes their property. Any adjudication will consider the published policy vs. a sales manager’s message.

    • Photo Stealers

      But she states she consulted her supervisor AND the help center and CC’d people in her reply. If she is incorrect then she’s not the only person thinking that Facebook owns all property uploaded to its servers. If this wasn’t something she was qualified to handle, she should have directed me to someone who IS qualified.

      • Marc W.

        Another case of “The Customer is Always Right”.

    • BobCoolTX

      While you’re technically correct that the photos are not their property, the broad terms in the TOU is virtually the same thing – a world-wide royalty-free license to do whatever they want with the photos. This includes sub-licensing the photos to another party, which usually involves money changing hands. They could put a photo that you’ve created on their own page to promote their service, for instance (https://www.facebook.com/facebook/photos_stream).

  • C Sab

    This is why I haven’t uploaded any photos to Facebook in years. They’re basically supporting stealing work from photographers. Criminals.

  • Marc W.

    I think the FB people have no clue what their own Terms of Service say. They must have pressed “Sure, I agree” without reading it.. 🙂

    https://www.facebook.com/legal/terms

    “2. Sharing Your Content and Information
    You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings. In addition:

    For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacyand application settings: 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 (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.”

  • AT

    Is there some way to share a photo on Facebook but rather than uploading it directly to Facebook, have it linked? SO that it cannot be downloaded. (Other than Flikr, I’m not a fan of their practices either, I’ve had work stolen from there that someone shouldn’t have been able to.) Hmmm, maybe some resourceful programmer can come up with a new app for photogs just for circumventing FB’s lame behavior!!

    • Marc W.

      Link to your own website.

      • AT

        I can’t seem to get the image to show up when I try to do that, I have tried 1000 ways. I link to the media file and I get no image, just the title. I’m on WordPress, if you have any insight I’d love to hear how you do it!

  • Jim

    As Jason said, the FB rep was wrong. But – she has the essence right…
    If you grant someone a perpetual, royalty-free unrestricted license they may as well own it, nothing is off limits. The instant your image is shared you have lost control of it because no one deletes old content off their timeline. The real message is don’t upload anything you are not comfortable giving away.

  • captain-confuzzled

    I’d write the headline this way “Facebook representative says ..there is nothing I can do about personal accounts or people harassing others” I imagine Facebook would really enjoy this telling statement to go viral. No systemic support of bullying there, huh Facebook?

  • captain-confuzzled

    Hmm, just a bit contradictory Facebook: “Facebook is committed to helping people and organizations protect their intellectual property rights” https://www.facebook.com/help/399224883474207 guess its not contradictory as long as you don’t go read the fine print

  • Crystal Johnson

    Why would you contact the SALES department for a copyright issue? They do not know what’s going on as it clearly shows from her respose to you.

    • Photo Stealers

      Because it is the only person with Facebook whose contact information I had. I hoped that if she could not help me that she would forward my email onto someone who could. This case has absolutely affected Sales as I have not invested any money in advertising with Facebook (which I have done in the past via ads and boosts) since all the bans started.

      • Crystal Johnson

        You’re making a fuss over this because someone in the wrong area is interpreting the ToS wrong. They have nothing to do with copyright claims, or the issues with your page being taken down. I’ve made many infringement claims, and every single one has been taken care of. This rep even state she essentially does not know what to do or how to help you. If you have issues with your page, seek the right channel. There is a whole sub-section in the help section about claims, about pages etc… You wouldn’t expect someone flipping burgers at McDonalds to know their accounting system would you? While it’s bad she can’t do anything to help you, misrepresenting this whole thing as if that is the know all and be all, and causing havoc… looks bad on you.

        • Photo Stealers

          All of the sub sections basically do nothing. If you can find a place to send a submission into Facebook asking why you are getting bans on something as benign as “I’m back!” then please, let me know.

          • Crystal Johnson
          • Celine (peaceetc)

            That appears to be intended to report broken features on Facebook. I’m not sure if it applies to this situation.

          • Photo Stealers

            Already did that months ago, never received a reply.

          • Helena

            I reported dozens of things. Pictures of my children with rude captions. Threatening comments. Nothing happened. That link is about as useful as a chocolate teapot.

          • Celine (peaceetc)

            I want a chocolate teapot. No tea, just the chocolate.

          • Helena Handbasket

            Where can I buy this chocolate teapot? Is this sold in the same place as unicorns that shit glitter and gumdrops? If so, I already ordered that, so I wonder if they’d combine shipping?

          • Kimo

            You’ve said this in several comments. Chocolate teapots are the best kind, and they do more for you than most of FB can!

          • Helena

            Unfortunately, all but the most special chocolate teapots are useless for actually making tea. I’m British. I need my tea!

          • Kimo

            They sell them all around here when it’s time for the carnivals and festivals. Unfortunately, they don’t hold up well to heat.

          • BigAl

            Hmmmmmmm Chocolate, where is the drooling smiley when you need it? But the real question should it be: the big one gallon stainless steel tea pot, for making a brew for 50 in the works canteen? Or the little china pot for two?

            Alan

          • Kimo

            How about getting both?

          • BigAl

            That real question is which makes the best cup of tea. There is skill in producing a really good cup of tea. Most think China makes the best tea pots, as it insulates better and so loses less heat while the tea brews. Although a good tea cosy helps in keeping the pot warm. The problem is that you can’t make a really big china tea pot that is useable, they just get too heavy. Back when I was in the RAF I think I was rather good at tea when I was on Canteen Duty. The important thing is to pre warm the pot, Letting it sit on the top of the water boiler was good, as you only then needed a little water to do the final pre heat. Then of course you need the right amount of tea, and to let it brew just the right length of time. Then serve it fast. At least the water boiler makes sure that you are actually wetting the tea with boiling water, that is very important. Three brews a day for around forty guys, including cleaning up afterwards plus your normal work could make for a very busy and stressful day. Especially if you had a full days worth of scheduled servicing to do.

            Alan

          • Photo Stealers

            I tried that one. Never got a reply.

        • V323

          Crystal, I sincerely hope you are never the target of thieves/someone with a vendetta that attacks your personal and/or business FB account. FB specializes in relying on random algorithms to replace people, common sense conflict resolution, thus making it near impossible to actually speak (in any form) to a human being. THIS fundamentally is the issue.
          Imagine you being blocked from your page for mere post of “Le Sigh”.

          • Crystal Johnson

            I have had my work stolen, dear, many times. Every single time I reported it the issue was resolved. I have talked with real live people that helped resolve the matter. Sorry that this page hasn’t, but it’s not the ‘billing/technical’ reps fault as this page clearly has made it out to be . I’ve had issues with posts being reported. and removed that did not break the ToU or community standards. What you, and everyone else needs to understand, is that the PEOPLE, not one single person doing it, are doing it out of spite simply for being outed.

            There have been many pages taken down for silly reasons. Heck, pages with 10 times the amount of followers have been taken down during their sweeps. I can understand the frustration. But ,again, it is not the rep’s fault. Have you ever worked in tech support? What many people need to understand is that sometimes they can’t push your issue on to someone else. Hell, I can give an example of my bank (Wellsfargo), where I had an issue with fraud. I called the CS rep, talked about my issue, and was told I needed to call a specific number as they couldn’t transfer. Is it that rep’s fault that she couldn’t transfer me? Or is it the fault of WF not allowing specific areas to actually help in situations outside of their spectrum…even if it’s just to transfer to someone else?

            Blame the people who have done wrong. Don’t blame the rep who is ignorant of the ToU, who cannot go past her own limitations. Take a breather, a break, calm down and then try again.

            But hey, I’m the badguy for not agreeing with the majorities opinions of how things should be done.

          • captain-confuzzled

            Crystal, dear, it doesn’t look like you have read through enough of this post to see what the ‘majorities opinion of how things should be done’ is. Generally speaking the majority DID NOT blame the customer service rep. If you are going to opine, it is helpful to have read what you are opining on.

          • V323

            Condescending AND thick. Excellent combination. #thumbsup

          • Jenny M

            We all have varying thoughts and opinions on things, apparently even in this case. I think that can be a good thing and I really don’t think it is beneficial for anyone here to be putting down someone else’s thoughts just because it doesn’t flow with the majority. Crystal said what she wanted to say, someone else disagreed with her. That’s fine and how it should be. But calling her or her opinion ‘condescending and thick’ is crossing a line. Just my humble opinion. Let’s be considerate of one another’s thoughts, even if they don’t agree with your own.

          • V323

            So she can be condescending in her disagreeing opinion, but I shouldn’t call her out for it? Why didn’t you chastise her for not being considerate with her tone?
            She could have easily explained her position & thoughts (albeit derived incorrectly) without being a jerk about it. Instead, she purposely chose her tone & verbiage to attempt to belittle.

          • Jenny M

            Good point, I really did mean it to go both ways. Sorry. 🙂 My apologies.

          • Helena

            The comment was incredibly condescending, in my opinion, so I don’t blame her for calling her out. It was unnecessary. Crystal seems to think she knows better than all the people who were aboard this crazy train from the beginning, and she obviously hasn’t gone any further than reading the post incredibly briefly. So being condescending whilst being incredibly ignorant to the backstory is hardly helpful.

          • Jenny M

            True

        • Justin Case

          Well Crystal, since you seem familiar with facebook’s reporting system, who would you have contacted? A name, position and email address would be of great help to many readers here who have been through similar problems recently.

          It took more than a month and MANY attempts from many people to clear this mess up before Mandy’s email was ever published. When it was, it took less than a day before someone with real authority at facebook stepped in and cleared things up. And we are ALL better off for this now.

          Except for you, it seems.

    • Helena Handbasket

      Please tell us how to get in touch with ANYONE ELSE. The ONLY reason we had this information was from them trying to get me to buy ads (which is a debacle all on its own merits) and I happened to keep her e-mail address. There’s nowhere on FB that has proven to be fruitful with information, so we figured this might be worth a shot.

      She may very well be misinformed, but that’s no excuse. If you don’t know the answer, either bow out, or pass it on to someone who DOES. With the entirety of this debacle and its ongoing saga, one would think it warrants a forward on to the legal department; yet here we are, debating the merits of a sales rep who decided to take this on, all by herself (with the supposed help of support and a manager).

      This would be comical if it weren’t so head-bashingly frustrating.

  • Richie Schwartz

    The FB rep is wrong. She cannot even understand what she sent you you. Please remember she is a sales rep, not an attorney. This is not the person who should even be helping you with this issue. It should have been turned over to their legal department. As stated in the FB policy (not the sales rep’s email) FB does NOT own the IP, you do. The terms of the license allows Facebook to let us use the “share” option on photos/media we upload. The sales rep’s logic is akin to thinking it is ok to receive stolen property. I suspect this post will get the attention of someone at Facebook who can actually help you.

  • Primitivejim

    I’m glad I just read that this was a sales rep, I was going to go ballistic….but clearly Mandy is very i’ll informed. This is no surprise given her title. It’s unfortunate that these are the only people you can get in touch with. I too will however cease any future $$$ towards advertising if this is how they will conduct business.

    • Photo Stealers

      Yes, she is a sales rep but she did, per her email, consult her supervisor and the help center on this matter prior to emailing me back.

      • Primitivejim

        I wouldn’t think the supervisor for a sales rep would have much knowledge on much besides sales related matters though. I mean I’m glad as hell that you are posting this and I hope th story continues to get a lot of traction maybe it will get someone outside of the sales office to officially clarify the issue and correct the misinformed Mandy. God knows they need an actual customer support team for people who ARE still willing to use ads.

        p.s. I cannot believe the nut jobs have been able to get all the posts taken down on FB though Corey! It boggles the mind that a pair of thieves have been able to pull the wool over so many eyes.

        • Photo Stealers

          If the employee, her supervisor(s) and the Help Center believe this, even if it is erroneous, then there’s a bigger issue at hand than my silly bans. How many times have these and other employees acted on behalf of Facebook while believing this as fact?

          • Primitivejim

            very true and that is one of the main reasons I insist on including a watermark on my uploads. Hate to do it but if they’re going to steal my content I’m going to make them work to use it.

  • prullenbak

    Facebook doesn’t own uploaded content. However, when one uploades content (including but not limited by: photos, videos, posts…) the uploader grants Facebook a non restrictive, global use license. So while not owning the photos, Facebook can do whatever they want with the picture without any regard at the original uploader.

    When other users upload copyrighted material and claim it as their own, they still break the law. No matter to where the content is uploaded or used.

    (Did a lot of research on this subject for my masters thesis, so my information is quite accurate)

    • horkus porkus

      Sorry but no, Facebook can not “do whatever they want with the picture without any regard at [sic] the original uploader.”
      Facebook also does not claim a “non-restrictive” license.
      Facebook’s terms claim a “non-exclusive” license, and yes true it is worldwide and royalty free, however it is also “subject to your privacy and application settings,” and the license you grant to facebook ends when you delete the content.
      These terms are far from permissions for facebook to “do whatever they want with the picture…”

      • prullenbak

        They can. And while it is true that pictures are subjected to your privacy settings, the moment a picture is shared or posted on public, that litte safeguard is gone.

  • CrackerJacker

    The issue is not the license agreement. That’s been thoroughly debunked several times over. At this point if you are a photographer and do not understand that posting your images on FB is akin to putting a stack of posters in Times Square with a “Free – Take one” sign on them, your ignorance is on you.

    The issue is that FB, as a free service, does not have adequate customer service assets to thoughtfully resolve disputes on their service. If you can figure out how to game the system, you can cause unmitigated mayhem. This clearly under-trained CSR is a symptom, but she is not the problem.

    • Celine (peaceetc)

      You are absolutely right they don’t have the people to respond to users, and I’m sure that’s why they make it so damn difficult to reach an actual person. I tried repeatedly to find a person who would do more than send me form responses and quote the TOS, but failed completely.

      Yet someone who knows how the game the system, like you wrote, can get people banned right and left, for innocuous things. It’s incredibly frustrating to receive bans for innocent posts, just because someone has a grudge.

      If anyone from Facebook happens to read this — please, think about the users. Simply quoting the TOS and sending form responses helps NOTHING. I want to know why I’ve received three Facebook blocks for things which do not violate Facebook’s community standards. Why am I and many others being punished, simply for linking to a web site or politely disagreeing with someone on a page?

      Why is it impossible to reach actual people who actually understand Facebook’s own policies? Why can’t we talk to real people?

      • captain-confuzzled

        That’s assuming that there is anyone at Facebook who does understand their own policies, or even wants to.

  • CSC

    The FB rep’s interpretation as well as all the others she claimed concurred with her, are not the Terms. What counts is the Terms of Service wording, and even that may or may not hold up under scrutiny IF anyone ever actually took FB to trial over these issues which is unlikely.

    But, it is also the reason I don’t upload anything useful to FB or other social media sites anymore. My own sites contain only small, watermarked images and/or ‘snapshots’ of little or no use to others.

    I’ve sent numerous DMCA takedowns, including to FB, and they’re usually quick to remove infringements.

    The link to the FB DMCA form: https://www.facebook.com/help/contact/?id=208282075858952

  • Adrian Patrick

    This is great news! I’m currently uploading a pirated copy of “Avengers: Age of Ultron”

    As soon as it finishes uploading please feel free to watch it, share it, copy it. Facebook now owns it. And poor Disney/Marvel won’t be able to do a thing about it.

    • Helena Handbasket

      I’m going to start selling Frozen stuff. Everywhere. All day. Every day.

      • Melinda Potter

        Just make sure you upload it to Facebook first, that way it’s legal… and… when disney gives you a take down, you can tell them that what they are doing is against Facebook policy and get them banned.

  • Denis Germain

    NOT!
    one more contribution to this urban legend!

    • Celine (peaceetc)

      Denis, this information comes directly from a Facebook employee. This isn’t some random rumor being circulated by uninformed people. The information may well be wrong, but it came from within Facebook itself.

      So, no, it’s not a contribution to the urban legend. It is relaying actual information.

      • Denis Germain

        NO NO NO STOP!
        by uploading an image you allow facebook to DISTRIBUTE the photo…. sure
        that is the whole point of sharing an image on facebook – it will be copied to everyone’s local cache…
        BUT it does not make Facebook (or anyone viewing the picture) the owner of the photo itself!

        • Photo Stealers

          Yes, that is our interpretation of Facebook policies. However, this employee (and allegedly her supervisors and the Help Center) interpret it differently which is why I wrote this blog post.

          • Celine (peaceetc)

            Exactly. You posted what an employee of Facebook sent to you. That is not urban legend, that is fact.

          • Denis Germain

            An employe who believes an urban legend, makes it real?
            WOW

          • Celine (peaceetc)

            That’s not even remotely what I wrote, Denis. This is an employee who claims to have consulted with a supervisor and other employees at Facebook itself and relayed information. She doesn’t believe in an urban legend, she legitimately believed she was providing accurate information per Facebook’s policies.

            If you’re deliberately trying to misunderstand what we’re writing, then please stop. It’s not helping anything, nor is your adherence to the belief that this is simply about an urban legend. It isn’t.

          • Denis Germain

            OMG it is getting worst…. it doesn’t matter what the employee said.

          • Celine (peaceetc)

            Yes, it does. It absolutely does. It says Facebook’s own employees don’t understand its policies.

          • Denis Germain

            How many people do you think will take only the “staff answer” and add to the urban legend? that’s exactly why I didn’t like this article in the first place: there are already a zillion comments about “watermarks”, disable right-click, FB this, FB that – GO on facebook, and this has ONCE AGAIN launched a tidal wave of people “warning” you about FB stealing your photos.

            It doesn’t matter what the employee says – I’ve had lawyers telling me that their clients did not have to pay, because the pictures they “borrowed” did not mention “copyright” – .. guess what happened in the end 🙂

            — Adobe has been presenting dimensions of images in PIXELS followed by DPI (or PPI) for 20+ years – which make a bunch of photographers (and graphic artists) believe that it does actually exist – or that a F*** computer monitor is displaying images at 72DPI (your phone has more resolution than this!)

            — Informercials tell people that they will loose 50 pounds in 5 days when they buy a pill or machine….does it mean it is true?

            — Most people belive that 50mm on a Cropped sensor camera equals a 75mm lens (IT IS NOT!)

            WOW, people calling people “names” on a forum – or some yoda like insults… Booooooooohhhhooooohhhhhooooo I’m going to cry

          • captain-confuzzled

            Denis, not sure why you are babbling on about DPI or PPI, but hey nice to have such an expert in everything on the planet contributing to the discussion. /*sarcasm. I really did try to understand what you are saying, but you just aren’t making any sense at all in regards to this whole topic. I don’t possibly see how a blog based discussion of a documented statement made by a Facebook employee that resulted in clarification by Facebook and helped ultimately resolve a difficult situation has anything to do with Urban Legends. If anything, your attempt to go that direction simply added confusion and misdirection to the conversation. Oh and by the way, my 50mm lens on a cropped sensor viewed on my 72dpi monitor reduced my weight by 50 pounds in 5 days, so I am definitely a happy camper and that’s the ‘truth’.

          • Paul G.

            I know it won’t count for much, but I assure you I’m not trying to be rude. Denis, you do not understand the original post and why this was a big deal. Nobody is trying to spread any urban rumors and given the timestamp I’m not even sure why you added this part because people are taking the staff answer very seriously, that being the new and updated staff message which confirms what we thought and cleared the matter up. AKA, the message that dispels this urban rumor. It very much matters that it came from an employee because employees are supposed to tell the truth. So yeah, it’s pretty damn troubling when an employee says the company owns your image, but again…that has since been cleared up, and we’re acknowledging that it’s just as important that a better informed employee has acknowledged that mistake and made it clear that they do not own the rights to the image.

            As others have said, I’m not even angry at the original employee because it seemed like she was trying to help, but was completely outside of her area of expertise. Given that FB has been so silent to Corey I appreciate that someone at least tried, and they were pretty damn quick to correct the mistake too so hey, credit where credit is due. Anyway, now that it’s been corrected, nobody is spreading urban rumors and are in fact trying to spread the clarification that FB isn’t claiming to own rights.

            As for the other stuff, I legitimately can’t make heads or tails of what you’re trying to say.

          • Melinda Potter

            “How many people do you think will take only the “staff answer” and add to the urban legend?” (yes, there are a lot of people out there that have a difficult time with reading comprehension. You’ve proven that. I get it. We all get it and share in your frustration) But more importantly… How many people will be told false information like this when trying to contact FB for help when they are targeted by people who abuse the report button, or when take down notices are ignored, or when IP thieves decide to retaliate against the original content creators? Not near as many, now that this blog post was published. My goodness! I thought for sure you would have gotten it by now, and had a good laugh at yourself for not understanding initially. To come here and find out differently was really shocking. I don’t know wether to be entertained by it, or… I’m sorry that this communication between The admin of this site and this particular FB employee took place. It’s obvious that it has upset many people including you, for your own set of reasons. Would it have been better for Corey to have just kept quiet and submissive? “She’s wrong, but there’s nothing I can do about it. If I post about this publicly it will just add to the whole urban legend out there. Someone will read into it the wrong way and actually believe Mandy’s interpretation. No, I won’t share it. I won’t say a word. This needs to stay hidden from view. I can’t have more people believing that Facebook owns our content. I’ll do my part by not talking about it”. That would have been a much better approach in your book? Then you Sir, are part of the problem and not part of the solution

          • Helena

            I’m beginning to doubt your reading comprehension Denis. You seem to be entirely missing the point.

          • Melinda Potter

            How does it not matter?! This employee was asked to help with an ongoing problem, that would easily be solved with a basic understanding of Facebook TOS and copyright law. She was unable to help because she possesses no knowledge of either subject. That matters. That matters to the admin of this site, and those that share links to this site in an attempt to inform.

          • Stitch I’lalu

            You’re all kind of saying the same thing. Denis is also frustrated with an employee not understanding the TOS. It’s a difference of perspective. It’s just one employee and their supervisor misunderstanding. It doesn’t change the law but it does make the whole thing incredibly difficult and frustrating.

          • Melinda Potter

            very frustrating. It’s not potostealers.com perpetuating the myths, it’s actual Facebook representatives! E gads! Yes, I share in Denis’ frustration and completely understand it, it’s just the misdirection that has me baffled

          • captain-confuzzled

            Denis, that employee responded officially for Facebook. Ultimately Facebook is responsible for what their employees say in official email responses. So, yes, it matters very much what the employee said. Her statements were not made to a friend at the local coffee shop, they were sent in an email response to a specific set of questions in her formal capacity working for the company.

          • V323

            It matters in that the employee stopped all future help needed because they don’t understand their own policies. That’s the problem, the misinformed people with the authority to dismiss the complaint are doing so without proper foundation. When an employee tells you no, no matter the factual truth, what exactly can you do to a) get them to understand they’re wrong and b) continue to get support for the issue they’ve already deemed you don’t have?

          • Melinda Potter

            No it doesn’t make it real. It doesn’t change the TOS at all. What it does is say WOW even Facebook reps don’t understand the TOS and/or copyright law! We’re screwed

          • Helena

            Denis, it’s that employee’s and their supervisor’s interpretation of the TOS, not an employee who believes an urban legend. Jesus wept.

          • Anastasia Beaverhausen

            WOW is right. You really are think! Please stop posting now.

          • Denis Germain

            URBAN LEGEND start exactly because of these !
            There are no alligators in NYC sewers, a box of tissue cannot kill you in a car accident, and Walt Disney was never frozen.
            http://www.popphoto.com/facebook-doesnt-own-your-photos-no-matter-what-viral-e-mail-says?dom=fb&src=SOC

          • Melinda Potter

            Isn’t your frustration aimed in the wrong direction?

          • Celine (peaceetc)

            Denis, I think perhaps you’ve missed the point. What has been posted here actually happened. There’s no legend, there’s no supposition, there’s no rumor. It’s fact. The problem is with the information the employee relayed, which is most likely incorrect. If Facebook’s own employees don’t understand their own policies, then what can do us users have at understanding them?

            Please, Denis, reread the post, and I think you’ll see where I’m coming from.

          • OtterMatt

            Could you sound like more of a moron? I mean, really? Ignoring the point of what’s explicitly said in black and white doesn’t make it any less real, or you any more lucid.

          • horkus porkus

            The point, Denis, is that a facebook employee was propagating the urban legend idea. Corey made this post because the employee, as nice as she was and as hard as she was trying, was jaw-droppingly ignorant about facebook’s actual policies.

  • Melinda Potter

    LOL OH NO! Even Facebook rep’s have fallen for the viral hoaxes! In all seriousness though… I’m flabbergasted. I’m not going to preach to the choir here. I’m too busy picking my jaw up off the floor

    • Celine (peaceetc)

      Could you snag my jaw while you’re down there? I fell over on my butt the other direction and can’t reach it.

  • Melinda Potter

    *cartoon screech* Back up! Wait a minute… also, according to her it is against Facebook TOS to inform people of businesses with fraudulent business practices? Only because IP theft if it’s committed on Facebook is completely legal? Or did she forget to quote and highlight that segment of the TOS that says you cannot share news about fraudulent businesses? More specificaly faudogrpahers who use other people’s content to sell their services to the public.

  • OtterMatt

    Ah, but copyright apparently doesn’t matter once it hits Facebook. After all, they claim anything that gets posted they have distributive rights over, if not outright ownership, so why not?
    Their own words against them.

  • Robert Flanagan

    Digitally watermark your photos people.

    • Photo Stealers

      You must be new here.

      Watermarks aren’t a failsafe to image theft.

    • Celine (peaceetc)

      Are you talking about embedded (hidden) watermarks, like Digimark? If so, Facebook strips out metadata, and embedded watermarks get lost, too.

      Visible watermarks can be altered and removed, too. Heck, some stealers don’t even bother with that.

  • captain-confuzzled

    I am glad you had that experience, but it highlights the inconsistencies in Facebook’s handling of reports, since we’ve seen that not everyone receives such a prompt and appropriate response.

  • Pam M – Grand Inspirations

    Apparently the guys at PetaPixel got wind of this issue today & contacted facebook themselves. Here is their post with clarification from facebook >> http://bit.ly/1IzOnGy

  • Photo Stealers

    The post has been updated with a statement from a rep at Facebook from the Photo Stealers Facebook Page. The employee that emailed me was misinformed regarding their stance on copyright infringement. They are also looking into any bans that occurred from profiles posting to or about Photo Stealers.

    • Melinda Potter

      Oh this is so good to hear 🙂 I almost want to thank Mandy for being ill informed! Mandy, spread the word girl! More Facebook employees need to be aware. So good to hear that photo stealers is no longer, some how, blacklisted on Facebook.

      • Justin Case

        I don’t really hold Mandy responsible. The more glaring problem here is that a SALES REP is the only person one can reach to get anything other than an automated response.
        I realize facebook has a huge number of users, but it is also an insanely wealthy company which could certainly afford to have a more direct way to contact someone who is actually informed about things.

        • Melinda Potter

          true, but if reviewers (after the automated response to reports and such, direct it to an actual FB report reviewer) were made aware, and more knowledgeable they would be better able to make just better informed decisions, and avoid having to get a hold of a “real” person all together in most instances. It IS rather sad that only FB sales is readily available though

        • Bob23325

          I commend Mandy for taking the time to look into it. It’s obvious there is a bigger problem when everyone in that office was pretty much clueless.

        • Celine (peaceetc)

          I don’t blame Mandy, either. She’s the first actual person who tried to help, and she thought she was conveying accurate information. I’m glad she was wrong, though, and that things seem to be on a better path now.

        • Photo Stealers

          I do not blame Mandy in the least – she did what any employee should do when presented with an issue that it not in her area of expertise. She went to her supervisor and the help center about the issue and they guided her into the email reply I received. She tried to help me instead of ignoring me which I commend her for.

          IMHO I think the supervisor should have had her send me onto the department whom was more qualified to help but I don’t think that’s Mandy’s fault at all.

          I hope this incident results in better training at Facebook. Even if a handful of employees believe her statement to be true, that’s too many.

          • Kimo

            Exactly. Where I work, we’re always being trained on something. You’d think FB, being way larger than my employer, would have far more training for their people.

    • Primitivejim

      Glad to hear Mandy’s misinformation actually helped to get your account back in good standing Corey!! I shared as well earlier in the hope to get more eyes on this. Seems this is the only way we can get facebooks attention. Congrats!

    • Lorrine

      Did you let him know who was the cause of all these bans we’ve been subjected to?

  • Well regardless, I think for me personally I am going to use a different platform to promote my work…and not post any images to Facebook which includes both personal and business images.

    Problem solved.

    • Whilst in principle I can agree with the stance, good luck finding another platform with nearly as much reach and possible client interaction/PR/marketing, etc..
      Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think FB is the end all-be all of promoting ones work, but it’s certainly a part of a well thought out balanced approach. 🙂

      • Kimo

        I was hoping to see something more from G+ and Ello, but so far the reach just isn’t there.

        • Kimo last I heard was that G+ was not going to be around for very long yes?

          • Kimo

            It seems they’re splitting it into differing segments. Oh well, time to look for something new.

          • You can’t fix stupid

            Have any of you looked into Tsu? http://www.tsu.co/

      • I know Big Fuzzy…I know. But crap…what to do?

      • Jim Martin

        Facebook is definitely the dominate player in social networking and I share Kimo’s frustration that the other platforms, particularly Ello.co aren’t gaining more traction. The thing is, facebook isn’t going to change unless there is a financial incentive for them to do so, and as long as people continue to put up with Facebook’s horrific service, nothing will change.

        If you can’t give up facebook, consider getting an Ello.co account anyway, and let everyone on Facebook know you are on Ello. You don’t have to stop posting on Facebook, you just need to post on Ello as much as you post on Facebook. I realize this isn’t convenient and it’s more work, but without some action to backup the complaints, Facebook isn’t going to change.

        • You can’t fix stupid

          Have you tried Tsu ? They have a very similar layout to FB. More user friendly than Ello.

  • Bob23325

    Please add my name to the list of people that received bans. I hope they investigate the source of the complaints that triggered bans. If they do uncover a single source for the complaints I also hope they put a permanent ban on the trolls responsible…. I know… wishful thinking.

  • horkus porkus

    So how bout Adrian was being facetious.

  • Just saw the update. Good news.
    Yeah, I figured it was wrong.. and NOW you have a direct line to someone in FB for all the crazies like Those Who Shall Not Be Named!

  • Paul G.

    Glad they quickly clarified things. Hopefully they’ll look into those other…issues that the page/members of the page have been having and undone any of the unjust bans. Maybe even look into exactly who’s been doing all the unjust reporting in the first place.

  • Annemieke London

    Sounds like a positive development 🙂 Finally!

  • Guest

    Whoo Hoo! So glad you finally got their attention and someone is doing something! I wonder if they will look at all affected accounts? I’d like to not be worried about getting a permanent ban after the 2 I’ve already had.

  • Basiclly B&S can nolonger use their tactics to bully or ban anyone by falsely reporting links and posts they dont like. I can assume either FB will look into their report algorithm or put the PS fanpage on some kind of exception.
    This is a game changer.

  • One more thing this is the first time in history i ever heard of FB removing a BAN that on its own is huge!

  • Jenny M

    This is awesome news. Corey, you just showed us that persistence counts. Thank you for being so persistent and not giving up. I say this calls for a group toast…Glasses up? – CHEERS!

  • Kimo

    On behalf of all my friends and family, a hearty thank you.

    If they had been right, things would have impacted more than photographers. If FB used your personal photos for adverts, then the people within the photos could sue you, but not FB.

    Something to think about in our connected age.

    Again, thank you and congratulations on getting somewhere with them.

  • Michael Goolsby

    Fantastic! I was actually working on a rather substantial post showing all the ways that such a policy (that turned out to be false) on the part of Facebook would have been massively illegal. The original information certainly seemed to be ridiculously wrong since FB undoubtedly has a full legal team of some sort of another always at hand.

    Great work, Corey! You are #*%@ing awesome!

  • C Sab

    If they do actually look into it, I can think of a few people who should be getting a bit scared. This is great news.

    However I think the comments should be closed here, things are getting a bit ridiculous.

    • Jenny M

      @C Sab:disqus How are the comments here getting ridiculous? Am I missing something? I see positive and happy comments.

      • C Sab

        Further down people were starting to argue, and it was getting a a bit out of hand.

        • Chris Pickrell

          Only because this crap happens once a year, and facebook always has to respond and be like “Seriously, you guys. We don’t own your photos.”

          People are paranoid for no reason.

  • Chris Carson

    Facebook … ROTFLMFAO.

  • It doesn’t matter what those bozos say. You own the copyright to your photos, and if they make a claim without merit, they will lose in court. Someone will make big bucks some day because of it. Facebook can’t change copyright law.

  • Lorrine

    My FB account is under attack again! 3 photos reported for nudity. One is a head shot, one of my mother and one of my daughter. All were cover photos or profile pics.

    • Marc W.

      Lets hope Matt takes notice!

      • Lorrine

        Not a biggie honestly because there is no nudity. However, it just is so very sad they have nothing else in their lives. Must be a very depressing existence.

        • Marc W.

          It is a biggie because FB allows this harassment.

          • Well its pointless since a live person looks at the image..

            Sent from a iPhone, please excuse the brevity and typos.

          • Marc W.

            heh?

          • Bob23325

            A live person does look at photographs reported…

          • Marc W.

            Really. Didn’t know that.

          • C Sab

            Yup. So they report for nudity all they want, it’ll be as successful as everything else they’ve attempted. Lol

          • Lorrine

            Yes true, but I got a notice about half an hour after I posted this that the photos would not be removed. That was unusually fast. From report to review in 3 hours? I’ve never had that happen before. Hum wonder if someone had a hand in that.. 😉

        • Kimo

          What’s really sad is that don’t even have each other. When things start going off the rails, they’ll each dime the other out. Without honesty, there can be no trust, none whatsoever in their case.

    • Dammit Billcie!

      Sent from a iPhone, please excuse the brevity and typos.

      • captain-confuzzled

        Oh Joseph, stop complimenting them. 😛 I’m guessing you just made their day – sad but true