For an overview of privacy and applicable laws, see the Wikipedia article on privacy at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Privacy.
Companies such as Facebook are exploiting to their benefit the weak status of the right to privacy in the law.
That is why we prefer to talk about a criminal theft of information, which in the case of social media networks is of course also a violation of both intellectual and privacy rights, however those are defined by any legal jurisdiction.
Original photos and texts that anyone posts about themselves belong to THEM, not to the social networking platform, and websites such as Facebook do not have the right to use that "property" or "intellectual property right" other than for the purpose to which it is was originally intended, unless they have explicit specific permission from the rights owner.
A simple clueless opt-out or opt-in will not suffice.
Search-type lists or compendiums utilizing private protected materials are illegal. We need look only to J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter, where the rights owners to the series of Harry Potter books sued the maker of a publication that was a reference compendium of Harry Potter characters, places, etc.
We see no great legal distinction here between Facebook's commercial use of search compendiums of private user materials and the J.K. Rowling case.
If Facebook wants to use YOUR materials beyond the purpose for which YOU posted them, then they need your permission and they should have to pay you for it.
Thursday, January 17, 2013
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