The Dangers of Content Marketing on Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg Facebook SXSWi 2008 Keynote
Mark Zuckerberg Facebook SXSWi 2008 Keynote by deneyterrio

Have you read Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities? I decided to after talking to a Facebook IP lawyer. There are some serious dangers for content marketers on Facebook:

“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 privacy and 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”).”


“You will not tag users or send email invitations to non-users without their consent.”

If someone is using content as a means to market to their potential customers, the first statement presents huge issues. It’s clear that protecting IP is hard on Facebook given these terms.

While the same statement offers IP protections, Facebook is clearly soft on enforcement. Basically, for someone to get in trouble for using your copyrighted content without your permission, it requires someone to “repeatedly infringe” for Facebook to take action.

All in all, your content is not safe on Facebook, IMO. It’s best to use secondary services such as a blog, a video site or a photo site, and link back in if protecting copyright is an issue.

On the tagging front, I was particularly interested as this is a common form of marketing wares on Facebook, one I often interpret to be spam. Apparently, if you tag someone in a manner that they do not approve, it REALLY IS spam.

Reading the same policy, “You will not send or otherwise post unauthorized commercial communications (such as spam) on Facebook.” Facebook has demonstrated it is adamant about policing spammers on its network. It is actively prosecuting abusers of its spamming policy and suing them.

In essence, if you use tags with your content or posts to market your services, you are spamming people. No ifs or ands about it. If the people who are being tagged decide to report you, it’s likely that you will find little leniency from Facebook.

The lesson for content marketers, don’t hard sell on Facebook. Tagging should be soft, clearly benefiting the community members mentioned. Otherwise it’s best to try other social network services to achieve your goals.

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  • Protect IP in FB by posting links instead of content. Very smart idea, Geoff, which I intend to add to my social media training workshops, with full attribution of course. Seems like everytime I click on your links, I’m glad I did. :-)

  • Or you could just resign to letting Facebook own the content, which is fine, so long as you are OK with that. Chris Anderson, Free, all that, etc., etc.

    • the workaround.. in many cases… is definitely posting a link to your content somewhere with a better ToS, vimeo, flickr, youtube…. and if Facebook is playing nice with said service, the content will appear embedded on your profile.

      • I agree, Andy. And really why wouldn’t you at minimum do both to ensure you own a public version of your content?

  • @Eric – While this may work for youtube videos, it doesn’t benefit images. Losing the ability to tag people in photos is a HUGE loss. If you decide to just post links, you also lose the easy ability to track the comments and likes on a video/photo. The labor of scrolling back into your wall history to find past comments can be rather deterring. The chances of someone commenting on your flickr album are also severely low compared to facebook photo commenting/liking.

    Tagging people without their consent is spam? I agree. But on the flip side, what about tagging your friends who you just want to share this to but are not absolutely sure whether they “approve of your tagging”? What if I took a really cool photo and wanted to share it with specific people. The only other options would be to post on their wall, chat and tell, msg and tell, or another form of possible spam.

    Where is the delineating line that separates sharing from spamming?

  • “We can’t draw a general consensus. One man’s spam is another man’s treasure. Kinda like sexual harassment” -My friend Anshu B

    • Yeah, well just because someone likes my trash doesn’t mean I should be forced to keep it on my property. Trash is still trash in the eyes of the original owner.

      • If you feel it’s trash, then it’s your social responsibility to remove it and tell them as such. However, there’s not much we can do about spam on social media. Just think on the bright side, they were trying to share something they cared about. They didn’t mean to spam you.

        • No, it’s called littering. If you do it on the highway, you get a substantial fine. :)

  • I am sorry Facebook, but your social network is not covered by canspan act that protects emails.

    Tagging someone in a photo is not considered spam by law, only by your terms of service.

    • When you agree to join Facebook, you agree to these terms. Photos are not protected by your action of signing over your rights.