Future Tense

Posting That Viral Facebook Copyright Notice Won’t Protect Your Data and Never Has

Thumbs up for more transparency from Facebook. Thumbs down for viral legalese.

Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Facebook is revising its “terms and policies” on Jan. 1, and in an attempt to be transparent, the company keeps sending notifications to users to make sure everyone is aware of what’s happening. Most of the changes have to do with consolidating and simplifying Facebook’s terms of use so everything is easier to read and understand, which sounds positive. But there have been so many of these:

Screencap from Facebook

that people are starting to get agitated. And when Facebook users feel nervous, they share dumb stuff, like meaningless copyright protection notices:

Today, November 30, 2014 in response to the Facebook guidelines and under articles L.111, 112 and 113 of the code of intellectual property, I declare that my rights are attached to all my personal data, drawings, paintings, photos, texts etc… published on my profile. For commercial use of the foregoing my written consent is required at all times. Those reading this text can copy it and paste it on their Facebook wall. This will allow them to place themselves under the protection of copyright. By this release, I tell Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, broadcast, or to take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The actions mentioned above apply equally to employees, students, agents and/or other staff under the direction of Facebook. The contents of my profile includes private information. The violation of my privacy is punished by the law (UCC 1 1-308 - 308 1 - 103 and the Rome Statute). Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are invited to post a notice of this kind, or if you prefer, you can copy and paste this version. If you have not published this statement at least once, you will tacitly allow the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile.

As Slate pointed out during summer 2012 and fall 2012, these notices don’t do anything. They don’t even make sense. You retain the copyright to anything you publish on Facebook. No one is trying to take that away. But by clicking yes on Facebook’s terms and becoming a Facebook user, you do agree to let Facebook have access to and even use your content for Facebook-related things. And the fact that Facebook is a publicly traded company really doesn’t affect the situation at all. Also, the Rome Statute established the International Criminal Court in 1998 and relates to genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and “crimes against aggression,” not Facebook squabbles.

As Snopes explains, “Facebook users cannot retroactively negate any of the privacy or copyright terms they agreed to when they signed up for their accounts, nor can they unilaterally alter or contradict any new privacy or copyright terms instituted by Facebook.”

So give it a rest, people. Stop sharing this copyright notice. It doesn’t do anything and it’s freakin’ old.