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Social media

Love posting funny photos and memes online? New rules may change what you can share

Facebook has been getting its fair share of criticism over the last couple of years. The social media platform has become known for its issues with scammers, data tracking, stolen content and fake news posts.

Add that to privacy issues Facebook has had over the years and it’s easy to justify breaking up with the social media platform. But many of us use the site to post content or to keep in touch with old friends or family members — which can make breaking up hard to do.

To address some of these issues, Facebook has been rolling out new tools recently to help cut down on them. Another new tool was made available this week, and you need to know what it is if you post photos to your page on a regular basis. Let’s take a look.

Facebook aims to stop copyright infringement

Ever worry about your photos getting stolen off of your Facebook page? Well, Facebook’s new tool is going to help ease that concern.

The Rights Manager tool was rolled out Monday as part of an update to its rights management platform, and the purpose is to let creators and publishers dictate where their images end up. This tool is similar to what Facebook rolled out back in 2016 to help cut down on stolen videos.

Here’s how it works. Image owners who want to keep their photos out of the hands of other parties can provide Facebook with a copy of the images along with a CSV file that contains image metadata. The images are then uploaded to a reference library along with any information on when or where the copyright applies.

The Rights Manager uses this information to monitor Facebook and Instagram for matches. When an unauthorized post is made using the image, the owner can opt to monitor the post with the image, have the entire post taken down, or attribute credit to themselves via an ownership link.

There is also the option to use a territorial block, which lets the post stay live in territories where the copyright doesn’t apply.

If the other party also tries to claim ownership of the image, Facebook has a dispute process in place to help resolve the issue. If it can’t be resolved between the two involved parties, Facebook will yield it to whoever filed first.

The image owner doesn’t have to make public posts with the images on Facebook or Instagram for this tool to work. Any images that are uploaded to the reference library are fair game, even if they don’t appear on the user’s Facebook or Instagram account.

Related: Facebook makes it easier to take back your photos

But while this tool could keep unauthorized users from profiting off of someone else’s work, it could also have a significant impact on the way content is shared on Facebook and Instagram. There’s a chance the original creator could get unfairly boxed out of the copyright on an image if they aren’t the first to claim the image via Rights Manager.

It could also affect memes being passed around on both platforms. Facebook’s blog post on the tool doesn’t address the potential issues that could occur with that kind of content, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out over time.

How to protect your images even without Facebook’s help

Want to use this tool to protect your images? Well, you’re out of luck for now. The use of this tool is currently limited to creators and publishers Facebook has selected. According to Facebook, the goal is to eventually offer the use of this tool to everyone who uses Facebook or Instagram. It’s unclear when that will happen, though.

You can still protect your images from being used now — even if access to the Rights Manager is limited. To do this:

  • Change the privacy settings on your albums. This is one of the easiest ways to prevent unauthorized use of your images because it blocks access to your images completely.
  • Are you a professional photographer? Opt to use another website instead. Facebook can be helpful for promoting your business, but until it offers the tool for widespread use, you’re probably better off showcasing your work on another platform.
  • Don’t upload high res photos. If your photos are low resolution, you lessen the risk of someone using them. They’ll be too grainy or poor quality for commercial use if the resolution is low.
  • Hit the report button. If your image is being used without permission, report the problem to Facebook. It’s simple to report, here’s how:
    • Find the Facebook post you want to report and click on the three dots in the upper right corner.
    • Select “Find support or report post.” Follow the on-screen instructions to file the report.

While beefing up copyright protections is a step in the right direction, Facebook is still a mess when it comes to privacy and security. Your best bet is to get off the platform once and for all. But if you must stay, take steps to protect yourself. Tap or click here for 10 must-change Facebook settings.

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