Google+ Outs the Fox in Henhouse - Steve Rosenbaum

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The social network wars are heating up - as Google+ roars on the scene after giving Facebook a five year head start.

But things aren't as they appear - and in fact while both Facebook and Google+ are social networks, the two companies have very different agendas as to why they want you to connect and share with them, and what the long term implications of choosing a social network could be.

But now that users are starting to explore Google+, it's clear that Google sees the social network environment as critical to gathering both data and content.

Yes, you heard me right - Google's terms and conditions, buried in tiny print that most users will miss, gives them the right to take control of your content.

"By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services."

"You agree that this license includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services."

The key terms here are Perpetual, Royalty-Free - and most disturbingly - Adapt and Modify.

So, this means that if you've taken pictures of a sunset, or fireworks, or your children playing with a toy - or anything - Google has the right to grab those images, edit them, publishing them, and re-sell them.

Oh, and one more thing. If you think the answer is simply that you won't put any pictures on your G+ page, think again. Google REQUIRES you to link your Picasa account to your G+ account, and therefore requires you to license your Picasa to them under their Royalty-Free contract.

Don't like it? Don't use Google+. Oh, but keep in mind that if you do use Google+ or an Android Phone, or any other Google products that need photos, you're going to be pushed hard to use Picasa. iPhoto users? You're out of luck.

Now, to be fair - Google's gaining traction on Google+ because it responded to a need that Facebook has ignored, the need to expand the concept of 'friends' from a single idea to a series of concentric circles that allow you to create a more nuanced network of friends, family, associates, and groups. The volume of noise on the web is growing fast, and Facebook users will explore Google+ to see if there's a more orderly way to manage social interaction.

But how does Facebook feel about the rights to your content? Their Terms of Service clearly state: "You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook" and goes on to say that while you grant them the right to use your IP while its posted, "This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account.

But Google's decision to trade me a 'free' service to the perpetual rights to my stories, images, video, and content isn't fair, and will make it impossible for anyone who makes a living in the content space to embrace Google+. Maybe that's the idea? If Google can aggregate enough consumer content and UGC, then maybe they don't need to pay creators for their work. That's a scary thought.

Steve Rosenbaum is founder and CEO of, and the Author of the recently released McGrawHill Business book "Curation Nation" (March / 2011). Steve can be contacted at Follow Steve Rosenbaum on Twitter:

Read all Steve's MediaBizBloggers commentaries at Steve Rosenbaum - The Media Memo.

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