It’s everywhere: the Facebook status purporting to protect users’ personal information has been popping up all over newsfeeds recently. Users have been posting the notice, the full text of which follows this article, in response to the change to Facebook’s privacy guidelines which has added a clause to its data use policy, allowing the company to share ‘information with affiliates’. So does posting this status actually have any legal effect?
The short answer is no, it doesn’t. Posting this status is not enforceable or binding on Facebook, due to the terms and conditions that users agreed to when they first signed up to the site. These state that once a user has agreed to Facebook’s terms and conditions, they specifically grant the company a ‘non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any content covered by intellectual property rights that you post on or in connection with Facebook’. In short, while users still own the copyright to anything they post on the site, by signing up they gave Facebook permission to share it with any of their affiliated companies, such as Instagram.
What’s more, a user cannot go back on the granting of this permission, as has been made clear: ‘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 simply by posting a contrary legal notice on their Facebook walls’.
However, it is important to remember that Facebook allows a user to control the privacy settings on any new post with a variety of options ranging from ‘Public’ to ‘Only me’. In addition to this, the company’s terms go on to add that the intellectual property licence that the user has granted them by signing up ‘ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it’.
Finally, as has been noted, a Facebook user who disagrees with any of the above has several options open to them, including cancelling their account or lobbying the company to amend its policies. The easiest and quickest option may well be thinking twice before posting anything that you would rather Facebook didn’t share with the world.
The full text of the fake notice is as follows:
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 the 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 staff under Facebook’s direction or control. 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…