Tech Thursday: Do you read the terms and conditions of your social media accounts?

Over the past few years many social media applications have received backlash for their long winded terms and conditions that use legal jargon instead of simple terminology that everyone can understand.

In 2013 Instagram got into major trouble for changing their terms and conditions that would give the mobile photo-sharing app the right to use members’ photos in advertising campaigns. They were forced to reverse their decision after a public outcry from its users.

Have you considered what rights you have given to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms? When you post pictures or upload videos on these online media platforms, do you forfeit the rights to these images?

These are some of the pressing questions that arise when using social media and it is important to read the fine print when you sign up. Here are few summaries of some of major online social media platforms. These are by no means a substitute for reading the terms and conditions of your social media contract and ownership of your content.


When you sign up to Facebook, you give the social networking service permission to use your name, profile picture, content and information in relation to commercial, sponsored or related content (such as a brand that you like) served or enhanced by them. This means you permit any business or entity to use this content without paying you for it. These conditions are subject to your privacy settings and the audience you have set to receive the information. Facebook is also able to track your web surfing any time you are logged in. They also use strategic partnerships to track your purchases in real life and can use your data to sell to data brokers who monitor your consumer habits.

Read the Facebook Terms and Conditions here.


On Twitter, when a user posts a picture or video, the terms and conditions of the company give it “a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense)”.  This means that Twitter gives the user total control over the image but they have the ability to use the image in any way they want. The company claims the right to use, modify or transmit it your photo any way.

Read the Twitter Terms and Conditions here.


There have been many initiatives to rewrite the Instagram terms and conditions for usage especially for teenagers and kids to understand. The gist of the Instagram rights for users is that you officially own any original pictures and videos you post, but they are allowed to use them, and can let others use them as well, anywhere around the world. Other people might pay Instagram to use them and they will not pay you a cent for that.

Read the Instagram Terms and Conditions here.


Many of Snapchat services allow users to you create, upload, post, send, receive, and store content. When you do that, you retain whatever ownership rights in that content you had to begin with. But by doing that you grant them a license to use that content in whatever way they wish. The limitations of that license depend on which services you use and you can stipulate these under the settings you have selected. The content you upload remains in the public domain which gives Snapchat a broader licence that allows them to the unrestricted, worldwide, perpetual right and license to use your name, likeness, and voice solely in Live, Local, or other crowd-sourced content that you appear in, create, upload, post, or send. This means you will not be entitled to any compensation from Snapchat if they do use your content or name.

Read the Snapchat Terms and Conditions here.



Linkedin makes broad claims over users’ content. Their terms and conditions stipulate that they are able to “copy, prepare derivative works of, improve, distribute, publish, remove, retain, add, process, analyse, use and commercialise, in any way now known or in the future discovered…” This claim goes beyond user’s content and includes any data, concepts, or ideas passed through their service. This means that when you post something on Linkedin, whether it’s personal or content, they have the right to do anything they want with that content forever.

Read the Linkedin Terms and Conditions here.


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