Data Ownership & Usage

Building Blocks for Domain of One’s Own: A series of adaptable modules


Raising awareness of how much data is provided to various digital platforms and what is done with that data by the corporations providing the service, in order to better understand issues of ownership and commercialization.



Choose and compare two Terms of Service for two different digital platform that you use regularly (iTunes, Spotify, Canvas, Twitter, Facebook, etc, etc, etc). Pay particular to how your data is being utilized, shared, sold, etc. Then take two versions of the same social media platform’s terms of service, paste them into, and see what changed. Did they add or delete user privileges?


  • Who owns your tweets, Facebook posts, photos, GIFs?
  • Can Flickr sell the images you upload? Can Instagram?
  • If Flickr sells your images, do they owe you money? Does Facebook own the  images and videos you post?
  • If you delete a page from your own domain, is it gone from the internet? A post on social media?
  • If you previously did not know your data was being collected, why did you think this way?
  • How do you feel or think about social media now that you know they collect information?

Instructor Guide

We often (always) agree to Terms of Service that we haven’t read, leaving us vulnerable to misuse of our data and inadvertent violations through our activities on the platform. Compare the Terms of Service the students read to the Terms of Service for Domain of One’s Own. Another question to ask the students is to do an inventory of all the data they provide to and for various platforms, in order to understand how much they provide and the implications of that production on their digital identities.

Customize It!

Read the Terms of Service for any technology/platform you are using in your class (Canvas, etextbook, learning platform, etc).