If something seems too easy to work, it probably doesn’t. This is the lesson we can pull from a number of completely fake copyright/privacy “notices” that reemerged on the Web this week after Facebook published its new privacy guidelines. Despite the obviously bogus nature of these “notices,” some people still believe they will magically increase your privacy protections and relinquish Facebook’s rights to your photos and other posts, just by copy/pasting it as a status update. Long story short: They won’t.
Here are two examples of these so-called notices you might see on your News Feed.
For those of you who do not understand the reasoning behind this posting, Facebook is now a publicly traded entity. Unless you state otherwise, anyone can infringe on your right to privacy once you post to this site. It is recommended that you and other members post a similar notice as this, or you may copy and paste this version. If you do not post such a statement once, then you are indirectly allowing public use of items such as your photos and the information contained in your status updates.
PRIVACY NOTICE: Warning – any person and/or institution and/or Agent and/or Agency of any governmental structure including but not limited to the United States Federal Government also using or monitoring/using this website or any of its associated websites, you do NOT have my permission to utilize any of my profile information nor any of the content contained herein including, but not limited to my photos, and/or the comments made about my photos or any other “picture” art posted on my profile.
You are hereby notified that you are strictly prohibited from disclosing, copying, distributing, disseminating, or taking any other action against me with regard to this profile and the contents herein. The foregoing prohibitions also apply to your employee , agent , student or any personnel under your direction or control.
The contents of this profile are private and legally privileged and confidential information, and the violation of my personal privacy is punishable by law. UCC 1-103 1-308 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED WITHOUT PREJUDICE
In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention).
For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!
(Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright laws, By the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook’s direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).
Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status updates
Now, we could go through these notices line by line to explain why they are complete and utter nonsense. But given that there is absolutely nothing legally relevant in either, we won’t waste your time with the details. (If you’re really interested, Snopes and Hoax Slayer get into the nitty-gritty a bit more.) It all boils down to this: Both of these notices are based on the incorrect assertion that because Facebook is now a publicly traded company, its terms of service – the legal agreement you sign onto the moment you have a Facebook account – can be somehow altered or rendered void by the mere presence of either of these notices. This is not true.
If you have a Facebook account, you are bound by its terms of service now, just as you were before the social network went public.
What, then, do Facebook’s terms say? Basically, everything you post on Facebook is technically yours – you own it, Facebook does not. That said, when you post photos or data to Facebook you give the social network the right to use your content more or less as it wishes.
So if you’re going to share something to your Facebook friends, share this: If you don’t want Facebook to use your data, don’t use Facebook.
Update: It might be a good idea to post these “notices” anyway – but not for the reason you might think. As attorney Michael Phillips explains over at BuzzFeed, the more Facebook users make public statements that they want to have greater control over their privacy, the more evidence the courts have that we have an “expectation of privacy” for the information and content we post to Facebook. By sharing these notices, you are in effect doing exactly that. So share away, people. It might actually do some good (in the long run).
Update 2: Facebook has actually responded to the “notice” hoax. The company’s statement reads: “There is a rumor circulating that Facebook is making a change related to ownership of users’ information or the content they post to the site. This is false. Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post, as stated in our terms. They control how that content and information is shared. That is our policy, and it always has been.”