The specifics on who owns what in social media has always been a little blurry, even when an attempt at clarification is provided.

For example, while Twitter is adamant that “they are your tweets and they belong to you”, they also state explicitly in their terms of service that when you sign up to the network you grant Twitter a “worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license” which allows them to “use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute” those tweets in any way they see fit. Moreover, you also give permission that they can make those tweets “available to other companies, organizations or individuals who partner with Twitter for the syndication, broadcast, distribution or publication of such Content on other media and services.”

So, yeah, technically, while those tweets might belong to you, inasmuch as you can, uh, delete them anytime you like, that’s about the extent of your ownership. Twitter can do this and pretty much everything else. And more importantly, they’re making an income off of your content, too. As are Facebook and all the other giant social portals.

So remind us again exactly what it is that we ‘own’?

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