Quit Posting Facebook Copyright/Privacy Messages — It’s a Hoax

Have you seen the one where you're supposed to post a legal notice to your Facebook profile to ensure the social networking titan can't use anything you've written without your permission?

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Robert Galbraith / Reuters

Have you seen the one where you’re supposed to post a legal notice to your Facebook profile to ensure the social networking titan can’t use anything you’ve written without your permission?

No, doing so won’t accomplish anything legally speaking, and yes, it’s a hoax — an old one that already made the rounds earlier this year according to urban legend tracker Snopes.com.

I scraped a copy of the message off my own Facebook News Feed this afternoon (one of my friends had posted it), and other TIME editors confirmed seeing it in their feeds this morning. Here it is, in full:

In response to the new Facebook guidelines, I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, graphics, comics, paintings, photos, and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention). For any and all commercial use of the above my written consent is required in every instance.

(Those reading this may copy and paste this text on their Facebook walls. This will place them under protection of copyright laws. By the present communiqué, I hereby 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 punishable 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, then you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be allowing tacitly the use of elements such as your photos, as well as the information contained in your profile status updates

The idea seems to be that by posting this, you can somehow override the privacy strictures you agreed to when you signed up for Facebook. Let’s be clear: You can’t. It’s that simple. Posting such messages, whatever you’ve read about your rights and the power of self-declared legalese, will simply clutter up your timeline and annoy your friends. If you have a problem with Facebook’s privacy policies, you can either stick it out and lobby for Facebook to amend its terms, or you can quit Facebook.

Part of the appeal behind this particular version of the hoax lies, I suspect, in its citation of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), Section 1-308, which supposedly confers certain legal privileges if you drop it somewhere in the vicinity of your signature. In short, it doesn’t, and it certainly doesn’t protect you on Facebook. The only thing that’ll protect you on Facebook is you, in other words — taking care not to post anything you’d rather stay private.

Perhaps “hoax” is too strong a word. Sometimes these things are just viral mistakes — someone taking a well-intentioned misunderstanding and driving it viral (though that’s often also a definition for “conspiracy theories”). People pick it up thinking they’re immunizing themselves with, as Snopes puts it, a “legal talisman.” No such thing exists. The person who devised this particular message may have been going for viral clutter, or they may simply have been misinformed.

Update: Facebook’s weighed in on what it refers to as a “Copyright Meme” spreading on its site, and you’ll be happy to know the company’s making it clear that you — not Facebook — own your content, period.

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.

27 comments
GailJacquelineMrsGray
GailJacquelineMrsGray

Facebook is always blocking me for no reason and steals my photo albums, i have not done no wrong but they are a big pest sometimes, its always me that get thrown out of there website.

BretSpangler
BretSpangler

Hurry, it's time to panic.... it seems 100's of online blog and news sites covering this, a supposedly harmless post, but a lot of noise over it, way to much noise, who really cares if millions repost this, it is harmless, yet the pundits come out of the woodwork telling us all how dumb the sheep like masses are, yet you too have done the same thing.... funny when you think about it. And most from big media outlets, the ones most likely to try and "program" the viewer / readership... relax no harm done... me thinks thou dust complain to loudly... just my observations on how big media took the ball and ran with it

AnnThilking-Underwood
AnnThilking-Underwood

Believe it or not some people posted a similar copy right thing but they knew it was a hoax. they posted it so facebook even though they could care less, would know we dont like it. Its that simple. No need for an entire article to try to make people feel stupid.

ChrisOwens1
ChrisOwens1

actually....UCC is maritime law which trumps TOSU agreements

GrahamKeeton
GrahamKeeton

i dont an NEVER ever wil belive that posts on facebook are the users own also we dont facebook users dont actually "own posts on facebook"  thats why I never have or never ever will share photos or videos on to ANY (not just facebook) media  AS ONCE that as been done what wver anyone says IT becomes the property facebook or any other media 

I also think there need to be more tighter controls on the media and internet too

ThomasAustin
ThomasAustin

My question on the whole thing is this:  Does posting such a notice act towards stopping others from using your photos in the commercial advertisement?  Or does posting a photo on Facebook place it n the area of public domain where it can be grabbed and used by anyone for anything?  If I comment on Facebook on how much I like a product, can the manufacture use the comment on their site? ? 

ninagarcia
ninagarcia

@TheDenimGuy love you back! xoxoxo

AnumakondaJagadeesh
AnumakondaJagadeesh

Very interesting. Good Caution. I will follow this.Dr.A.Jagadeesh  Nellore(AP),IndiaE-mail: anumakonda.jagadeesh@gmail.com

GeraldChikuse
GeraldChikuse

from my understanding the so called hoax is not really a hoax,it i just not from facebook otherwise it remains legally binding and the facebook statement quoted in the end of this article only serves to authenticate this

FranticKL
FranticKL

@RhysNagas @time @techland thats nasty

intelwire
intelwire

@hipbonegamer I'm sure 99% of those posting don't even know what a sovereign is. But I'm sure whoever first wrote the post was one.

intelwire
intelwire

@hipbonegamer Alas, I am way overbooked through the end of the year, no luxury of extra writing. And yes, it's 2 am. Bleah.

intelwire
intelwire

@hipbonegamer Have also seen verision citing "Rome Statute," another sov principle.

intelwire
intelwire

@hipbonegamer The giveaway is UCC 1 1-308 ref, which is a sov thing. Some versions of post also say "Without Prejudice," also sov language.

ExileDispatches
ExileDispatches

@TIME @krelnik At 5:20pm Pacific, that message was not very TIMEly.

Arlon Souza
Arlon Souza

happened the same in Brazil and so many people really believed in it, sharing a lot this info like really were true... we shld pay more attention...

HerbMcCloudII
HerbMcCloudII

@BretSpangler

Facebook would like us to forget the power they actually do hold, and reduce the resurgence of this in the future. It is not only bad for PR, but any future uses which may occur. (IMO)


ChrisOwens1
ChrisOwens1

@intelwire actually, it has to do with maritime law, which trumps TOSU agreements