Users beware: a new viral status is making the rounds on Facebook, and it promises to protect your privacy by guaranteeing your right to copyright on all of the content you publish on the site. Sounds good, I guess - but the only problem is that it's completely and utterly false.
The fake privacy notice claims that by posting it, users are "declaring copyright...to all of [their] personal details, illustrations, graphics, comics, photos, and videos." It's fake, of course, because it's simply not true. Nothing you say as a Facebook status can affect Facebook's current policies. The only things that you should consult in reference to Facebook privacy are documents like the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and the Data Use Policy.
The emergence of this new "privacy notice" seems to have been spurred by Facebook's move last week to make changes to how their site governance works. Mainly, Facebook wants to ax users' ability to vote on proposed policy changes, an option the company has given users since 2009.
"In the past, your substantive feedback has led to changes to the proposals we made. However, we found that the voting mechanism, which is triggered by a specific number of comments, actually resulted in a system that incentivized the quantity of comments over their quality. Therefore, we’re proposing to end the voting component of the process in favor of a system that leads to more meaningful feedback and engagement," said Facebook.
As we've seen in the past, Facebook changing or attempting to change any aspect of their privacy policies usually brings out a fair distribution of legitimately concerned users and alarmists. When the alarmists win out, we get things like this fake privacy notice.
Here's the new message, which you may have seen spreading around the network over the past few days:
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 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.
This isn't the first viral status claiming to protect user privacy that's popped up this year. You may remember similar statuses floating around following Facebook's IPO. Those previous scams noted that since Facebook was now a publicly traded company, privacy rights had gone down the crapper. Of course, the IPO had no impact on Facebook policy.
If you want to keep your content private, you have to do it via inline privacy settings.
"For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it," says Facebook in the SSR.
"When you publish content or information using the Public setting, it means that you are allowing everyone, including people off of Facebook, to access and use that information, and to associate it with you (i.e., your name and profile picture)."
Don't be fooled by this new viral privacy notice. If it either sounds too good, sounds too easy, or is vague and overreaching, it's probably a sham.
UPDATE: Facebook felt the need to make an official statement regarding this privacy hoax. Here it is:
"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."