Social Media, Privacy and Intellectual Property
Updated: May 30
In modern society, social media has become a crucial part of many of our day-to-day lives. Whether you use social media for personal use or for business purposes, major platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and I guess now TikTok have played a huge part in our life. We all know about the functionality of these social media platforms, but do we know about the background noise? What happens to your photos, videos or personal information once you post it on any one of these platforms? Do you continue to hold intellectual property rights over your own content once it becomes available to the public domain through social media? Do you have privacy rights over the content that you voluntarily posted?
The Curiosity with Social Media
The rise of curiosity has become increasingly popular in the age of social media. Prying, in particular, has become popular amongst users because it examines the private life of friends, family or colleagues. Social media users will often share personal information about themselves over platforms such as Facebook, Instagram LinkedIn or Twitter without knowing the costs to concealing this information. And no that's not just a millennial thing. Our society has become so curious with what others are eating for breakfast or who they are hanging out with that the concept of privacy or intellectual property never crosses our mind.
Privacy and Voluntary Disclosure
When opening an Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok or Facebook account, a lot of the time you are giving most of your privacy rights and intellectual property rights up and over to the platform itself. This means that the platform can use and sell your personal information, including photos and videos, to third parties in other jurisdictions where Canadian laws do not apply. For example, Instagram has the right to use personal information about any user, such as their full name or activities on social media, without the need for consent of that user or the need to provide compensation to that user for using their information. And since Instagram is now owned by Facebook, if you have a Facebook account Instagram can also use your Facebook data. Another example is when a TikTok influencer creates content and posts it on TikTok, he or she is unknowingly giving up his or her rights to that copyright. TikTok's policy (the one you didn't read), like many other social media privacy policies now have rights over that content and can use and sell it to its own advantage.
Don't Delete your Social Media just yet
As scary as all of that seems, there are actually a few social media platforms that do try to protect your privacy and intellectual property rights. Don't worry if you didn't read the policy, we read it for you. It is stated that LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok users do continue to own the intellectual property rights in the content that they create and post on any one of these platforms. LinkedIn and YouTube for example, have a process in which a user or person of the public can submit a claim for copyright or trademark if they believe their copyright or trademark rights are being infringed. However, it is important to recognize that there may be other policies, licensees or terms of service that contradict this.