Remember chain letters? Our era’s equivalent are those viral Facebook status messages that refuse to die, no matter how many times they’re debunked.
Today’s edition is the copyright notice that claims to protect the person posting it from having the information on their profile disclosed, copied, disseminated, etc. by Facebook or any of its employees. (See image below for an example.) It uses lots of big, legal-sounding words and cites things like the Rome Statute, UCC Section 1-308, and the “Berner Convention” (presumably a misspelling of the Berne Convention), but that doesn’t give it any more legitimacy than it had the last time it made the rounds, in June. Here’s Snopes.com with more:
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.
Back in June, the hoax capitalized on people’s uncertainty over Facebook’s debut as a publicly traded company, which in itself had no bearing on users’ privacy rights or copyright protections. This time it’s playing on people’s confusion about Facebook’s proposed changes to its terms of service. The proposed changes are real, but no status update that you post will have any bearing on how they affect you. If you want to weigh in on the proposals, you can do that here. As I wrote last week, if enough people comment on the changes, Facebook may even allow its users to vote on them, though the company’s representatives have been a little cagey on that point.
But again, just to be clear, referencing a bunch of legal hokum on your Facebook profile will have absolutely no effect on what Facebook can and cannot do with your information. Nor will refusing to post said hokum on your profile open you to any new privacy violations or cause you to have bad sex for the next seven years.