What’s Yours is Mine and What’s Mine is Mine

by Geek Squad Agent on ‎03-03-2009 10:21 PM (10,656 Views)

In light of Facebook’s new policy-crafting democracy, I’d like to offer a few ideas for social networking companies that base their business around member-generated content.

 

Who Owns the Content?

 

You do, Facebook. Of course. The first order of business any self-respecting social networking Web site should do is immediately declare complete and total ownership of the content poured into your site by members. Sure, the public may moan that you’re a capitalistic genius, but you’ve built the platform for them to express countless entries about their eating habits or the movies they really like.

 

Among millions of pointless entries are a few gems of good, solid innovation that you can then latch on to and really exploit to their full monetary potential. Think of the number of movies you could produce from this stuff. Or if you find the next Picasso. You’ll be swimming in money.

 

They don’t call them “users” for nothing—because they’re totally using the service that you offered to them freely without thinking of your bottom line! Just make sure you hide the ownership rights deep in the privacy policy no one reads, but all must accept. The last thing you need is a lawsuit to rain on your cash cow.

 

Delete Me?  No, Delete You!

 

Once you’ve taken the exciting step of complete ownership of your members’ content, you might ask yourself what happens if one of those members deletes his/her account. Should you respect this user’s privacy and delete all that personal information you’ve collected from years of posts?

 

Of course not. You should remind the user that you own that content, now and forever. That mountain of data is pure marketing gold. You can’t disappoint your advertisers. How else will they know how to target CatLover321 if they don’t have access to his email and detailed information about his likes and dislikes from his 8,000 posts about the television shows he’s watched over the years. CatLover321 might even thank you for the direct mail pieces that show up in his inbox months after he thought he deleted his account.

 

Everyone Wins. Well, Maybe Not “Everyone.”

 

Now taking complete ownership of content might not be the easiest decision to make, especially once the public sees the brand-new terms of service you put together with the very best team of lawyers you can now afford. And of course, you may also find yourself dealing with dwindling membership as users leave your service in droves to go to a more open and transparent social network. But hey, you’ve already made all that money from others’ ideas, so surely you don’t need them anymore. You’ll be just fine sifting through all that data from their deleted accounts while trying to pitch your relevancy to the advertisers who no longer return your phone calls. And you can sleep well at night knowing you maintained a high level of ethical responsibility.

 

After all, it isn’t YOUR fault they left.

 

I hope the sarcasm came across loud and clear.

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