Although most of those Terms of Service sections are pretty generic legal lingo, the writers at Photofocus uncovered a sneaky little curveball Twitter threw in. I'll start by laying out what's actually in Twitter's Terms of Service:
By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).Unfortunately, it goes a bit further:
You agree that this license includes the right for Twitter to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals who partner with Twitter for the syndication, broadcast, distribution or publication of such Content on other media and services, subject to our terms and conditions for such Content use.If you're confused by all of that, I'll summarize it Twitter-style in 140 characters:
If you post a picture on Twitter, we can do what we want with it and sell it to whoever we want. You want a royalty check? Sorry Charlie...
Now I won't rake Twitter over the coals too much here, because in all fairness they did put it right there in black and white. But given the backlash, I wouldn't be too surprised if Twitter did go back and change their stance on photo posting.
However, anyone who posts pictures on Twitter needs to be aware of this and needs to accept the fact that those pictures could end up somewhere else without their permission. This is especially true for photography enthusiasts and professionals, because they lose all licensing rights to their photos once they're posted on Twitter.
More importantly, this is a wake up call that we do need to start paying attention to every Terms of Service agreement, because you may end up clicking away your freedom.