Thursday, October 17, 2013

Facebook privacy notice is a big fat hoax

Since 2012, Facebook users have been posting a legal-sounding “privacy notice.” By putting the notice on their timelines, they hope, they will become exempt from the terms and conditions of Facebook’s “Data Use Policy,” which users agree to upon initially signing up. 

 “We have noticed this recent status update that is being widely shared implying the ownership of your Facebook content has recently changed,” Alex Kirschner, a member of Faceook’s PR team, explained. “This is not true and has never been the case.”

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While there are some variations, most of the warnings look like this:

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

There are a number of inaccuracies here. While Facebook indeed became a publicly traded company, the change has no bearing on how the social network treats user information. Facebook is still bound to the terms and conditions signed by users, even if the actual contents of the contract are usually left unread. The company is also required to provide notification regarding any significant changes to this agreement.

Additionally, the Uniform Commercial Codes cited at the end of the post, "UCC 1-103 1-308" is completely unrelated to privacy or social networking, making its inclusion irrelevant.

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Note that when you join Facebook and set up an account, you are required to indicate acceptance of the established Facebook terms and policies, including the privacy policy. Nobody is forcing you to have a Facebook account, and you are welcome to reject the agreement and refuse to use Facebook, but if you’re using Facebook then you’ve already agreed to abide by the legal terms laid out by Facebook. Therefore, you are not in a position to unilaterally alter the terms of the agreement, legally limit or restrict the rights of any other entity that isn’t a party to the agreement between you and Facebook just by posting some text on your timeline.

Still, Facebook gives you the tools to protect your own privacy, providing a diverse set of privacy controls, and enabling users to choose where and how most status updates, photos, and other Facebook posts are shared.

See the short clip, humorously debunking the myth:

Sources and Additional Information: