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Did Facebook Overstep Its Cover Photo Boundaries?
By: Greg Dorn
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It came without warning. As many Facebook users went to check their own profile pages, something mysteriously was missing. Where it went, they had no idea. But someone or something had taken down theie cover photos without informing the unsuspecting users. Not surprisingly, many took to Facebook, Twitter, and any other online platform to express their disapproval of both the reason for this act and the way in which it was conducted.
Let us first take a look at Facebook’s motivation for ambushing many a Facebook account. Those who woke up to see a blank spot where their cover photo previously occupied were met with the following message:
Pick a unique photo from your life to feature at the top of your timeline. Note: This space is not meant for banner ads or other promotions. Please don’t use content that is commercial, promotional, copyright-infringing or already in use on other people’s covers.
I would like to preface my comments by stating that I do not have a J.D., I have not passed the bar exam, and I am not an expert on copyright infringement. But if a particular person wanted to express themselves by displaying a cover photo of a particular movie or TV show they love, I would be very shocked if those movies or shows would object to the free publicity. It is also necessary to once again stress the cover photo as a form of EXPRESSION. Facebook cannot deny that expressing ourselves is what the Facebook profile is all about. To say that your cover photo should be “a unique photo from your life” and then go on with “Please don’t use content that is commercial, promotional…” is both contradicting and ridiculous.
The truth is that there exists a gigantic grey area between photos that represent who you are and those that can be considered “banner ads” or “promotions.” I do not believe Facebook has any right to choose which category a photo falls under. Furthermore, Facebook does not include anything regarding rules, regulations, or any mention of copyright on their Help Page on cover photos.
This whole fiasco could have been much less of an issue if Facebook didn’t commit a big social network “no-no.” With people already suspicious on how intrusive social networks can be on our privacy, it was poor judgment for Facebook to somehow enter various accounts and delete the photo themselves. A much better approach could have been a letter on the website explaining their intentions or at least a word of warning of what they were going to do.
It’s a shame that Facebook most likely caused a major step back in the general public’s trust in major social networks and other data-gathering websites.

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About the Author
Greg Dorn is a blogger, writer, and obsessed with everything technology and social media. Greg is absolutely captivated with the recent advancements in mobile gadgets, making our world more seamlessly connected. You can learn more about him on his own blog here
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