Don't believe the Facebook privacy notice hype--it's a hoax

Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   Nov. 26, 2012 at 11:32 AM   |   0 comments

Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Once again, Facebook users have begun to circulate a notice, via status update declaring ownership over their personal information in the face of new changes to the social network's privacy guidelines.

Save your copy-paste energy on this one: posting the notice does absolutely nothing to protect your information, nor does it have any legally binding effect of Facebook.

The statement declares the user's copyright on all personal details and content posted to Facebook, warning that the social network's status as a publicly traded company puts private information at risk.

"Facebook is now an open capital entity," the notice warns. "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 If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status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."

Last week, Facebook changed its privacy guidelines (which it does regularly), removing the policy offering users a chance to weigh in on the rules for how it deals with personal information. However, a minimum percentage of participation must be met before the site is required to listen to what users have to say, and if past is prologue, only a tiny fraction of people will actually vote, and the change will go into effect.

Even if a status post could impact a user's relationship with Facebook (it can't), this particular post is riddled with bad legal language and the statues cited don't actually apply.

Snopes thoroughly debunks the privacy notice:

"Facebook users cannot retroactively negate any of the privacy or copyright terms they agreed to when they signed up for their Facebook accounts, nor can they unilaterally alter or contradict any new privacy or copyright terms instituted by Facebook simply by posting a contrary legal notice on their Facebook walls," they write.

"One of the common legal talismans referenced above is UCC Section 1-308, which has long been popular among conspiracy buffs, who (incorrectly) maintain that citing it above your signature on an instrument will confer upon you the ability to invoke extraordinary legal rights."

According to Buzzfeed:

It's bunk. First, the fact that Facebook is now publicly traded does not change the company's rights and obligations to its user's information. What about UCC 1-103 1-308? That's a provision of the Uniform Commercial Code, a uniform act that most states have adopted in its entirety or used as a template for their own laws governing commercial transactions. It's also useless here. While 1-308 discusses the reservation of rights, you would not be able to invoke it here to undo the standard Facebook legal relationship.

Finally, the Facebook Terms and Conditions, which you all surely read before signing up and using Facebook, expressly establishes when, how, and by whom it can be amended. Unsurprisingly, it does not include "amendment by status update." (Status Update: Give me one billion dollars, Zuckerberg.)

While Buzzfeed's post was in response to a similar viral "privacy notice" that went viral in July, the language and reasoning is very similar to the current notice.

Here's the full text of the notice:

In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional 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...

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