NOTE: This is a work of fiction. When I first heard about Facebook trying to change their Terms of Service to give them perpetual rights to users’ content, even if they delete their data, I was not too fussed. I figured it was to avoid any possible legal complications rather than a sinister secret plan. I couldn’t get too worried about the silly comments and out of focus pictures that I post anyway.
While walking the dog (when I do most of my thinking), I started to think about how it could go wrong and thought of this format as a way to illustrate it. I don’t think it was ever Facebook’s intention to make this possible. They have made several missteps, but I don’t think that they are evil. But over time, things change, and other people might not be so scrupulous.
The situation has also been mooted by Facebook’s climbdown after the kerfuffle caused by the change, but I like the idea so I wrote the blog anyway. The main message is something that we, and most social media observers have been saying for some time: Don’t post anything on a social media site that you wouldn’t want your mother, potential employer or a policeman to see.
Facebook II Mines IP as New Business Model
18 February, 2025
SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook II, a company launched last month by IP Miners LLC, has announced the auction of photos and other content which originally belonged to Facebook, the once-popular social media site which closed its doors in February 2015 after its plan to sell marketing data based on its users’ Christmas buying intentions fell flat. Facebook II has contacted people who are depicted in photos from the old Facebook site with offers to sell them the rights to those digital photos. Several political candidates, high profile fundamentalist preachers, major league baseball players and prominent actors and models have reported being approached. The offer letter says that if they do not respond, the pictures will be auctioned to the highest bidder.
Facebook was extremely popular as a site where individuals could post pictures and share them with friends. In order to make it legally possible to do this sharing, Facebook retains the rights to all content posted on the site. Many people posted potentially embarrassing or incriminating photos without thinking of the consequences of them becoming widely available, even years later. While the original Facebook site did its best to fulfill the spirit of sharing and provide individual users with control over their content, Facebook II does not feel any obligation to respect those commitments. “What we are doing is perfectly legal,” said IP Miners CEO Nathaniel Moorveld. “People knowingly transferred rights when they used the system. We are providing a public service by offering to sell them their pictures back.”
IP Miners originally focused on buying obscure patents from defunct companies and pursuing technology companies who infringed on those patents. In their best-known case, they sued 400 software companies in 2019 for infringement of a 1953 patent covering “Method for Displaying of Textual information on Television Screens” arguing that it covered any situation where text was displayed on a screen. Litigation to invalidate that patent continues, but 120 companies have settled the suit for undisclosed amounts. IP Miners bought Facebook’s intellectual property from the bankruptcy administrator in 2020.
Moorveld expects this new source of revenue to be even more lucrative than the portfolio of patents the company has acquired. “This is a natural next step in the development of our company and its business model. Facebook I had millions of users, but couldn’t find a way to monetize all that activity,” Moorveld said. “If there is one thing we know how to do, it’s monetizing.”