Photo Stealers aims to expose people who have used copyrighted images without permission.
But the site says it received a jaw-dropping response to an enquiry about its Facebook page.
Photo Stealers was stunned when it received this emailed reply from a sales representative at the social media giant:
‘…once something is posted or uploaded onto Facebook it becomes Facebook’s property.’
The response added: ‘So, if the original photographer uploaded the photo first onto Facebook and then others have taken it from there and uploaded it to their pages or profiles, this is legal and within policy, there’s nothing I can do about it unfortunately even if they are taking credit for the photos.’
‘Our terms are clear that you own the content you share on Facebook, including photos.
‘When you post something, you simply grant Facebook a licence to use that content consistent with our terms, including displaying it to the audience you’ve shared it with.’
• This is not the first time Facebook has been caught in an image rights furore involving a staff member.
Last year, Facebook reversed its controversial decision to ban a photograph of a four-year-old girl planting flowers, blaming human error, following a backlash among photographers online.
Amateur Photographer reported how photographer Penny Halsall was left distraught by Facebook’s removal of the portrait of daughter Daisy.
The image had won plaudits in the Amateur Photographer of the Year competition. But it was removed from the Amateur Photographer Facebook page last summer on grounds that it breached the site’s rules on nudity.
Facebook’s UK office said the image had been removed in error by a member of its community standards team, who misinterpreted Facebook’s guidelines.
Many photographers had turned to the internet to express their horror at Facebook’s original decision to remove the photo.