Disappearance of Facebook Covers: a Purge in the Name of Copyright… Or a Bug?

According to some observations made by Internet users Facebook is currently cleaning up the cover photos published by its members. The reason for this would lie in the issue of copyright, which the social network would have decided to apply to photos that do not belong directly to the users: a situation which, while it may be justified, nevertheless leaves some doubt.

The Mashable site reported last weekend that the phenomenon seems to be affecting many Facebook users, who have seen their cover photo disappear from their Timeline in recent days, without explanation. If it could a priori be a photo deleted due to a bug, the members concerned could see that the photo still appeared in their cover album, even though it was no longer at the top of their profile.

The UTICAOD site cites copyrighted content, such as photos from the film The Hobbit or the series Doctor Who, as having been the victim of this wave of blanket removal. And when users affected by the situation seek to publish a new cover on their profile, a message is displayed : ” This space is not intended for advertising or promotional offers. Your cover photo must not contain any commercial or promotional content or infringe any copyright. »

A justified approach?

In concrete terms, Facebook has not yet officially expressed itself on the issue of the disappearance of copyrighted cover photos. Nevertheless, a reading of the Declaration of the Rights and Responsibilities of the social network shows that the Social Network clearly grants itself the right to do so, as the first two subparagraphs of paragraph 5 show:

1. You will not post content or do anything on Facebook that may infringe on the rights of others or otherwise violate the law.

2. We may remove content or information you post on Facebook if we believe it violates this Statement or our policies.

If the approach makes sense in terms of the site’s policy, one may nevertheless wonder why the social network would have decided to do so today, when the Timeline and its coverage are available since September 2011 for informed users. The lack of information on the part of the platform regarding this approach also proves to be very strange: why would Facebook, which has been advocating for months for greater transparency on its practices, put photos out of circulation without really deleting them and without warning its members?

The social network has recently been criticized for its heavy and sometimes blind application of its policy of tolerance of clichés: at the end of November, the platform had erased the photo of a woman in her bath, after confusing her elbows… with her breasts. The deletion, although unjustified, had then been total, and the user informed.

Finally, it can be noted that among the users who complain about the disappearance of their cover, some of them mention personal photos, which are therefore not copyrighted. We have reached out to Facebook to get an official statement from the social network on this, and will update this news accordingly.

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