Hoax Alert: Posting legal notice on Facebook wall won’t protect users from FB posts becoming public

By @vitthernandez on
FB Legal Notice
Posts like this flooded Facebook walls over the weekend. Facebook

Over the weekend, Facebook was flooded with posts denying the most popular social media site, or any entities linked with the company co-founded by Mark Zuckerberg, permission to use the member’s photos, information, messages or posts in the past or future. The posts were apparently triggered by FB’s adoption of the Privacy Shield, a treaty that allows technology firms to transfer details of EU citizens overseas.

Those who copy and pasted the message gave notice to Facebook that they forbade the social media site to disclose, copy, distribute or take any legal action against the member based on the profile of the user or its contents. It stresses the profile’s content is private and confidential information and if breached, the violator could be punished by law, citing Uniform Commercial Code 1-308-1 1308-103 and the Rome Statute.

The message states that since Facebook has become a public entity, users who do not post the statement at least once would “tactically be allowing the use” of photos and information found in the member’s profile status updates.

In posting the legal notice via cut and paste, the user is allegedly protected from having all his Facebook posts made public. The message cites a Channel 13 news report about the changes in Facebook’s privacy policy, so they would rather be “safe than sorry.”

Snopes, a hoax-busting site, points out that posting legal notices on Facebook wall has circulated a few years ago and variants are resurrected so often. It stresses that the ineffective solution the legal notice claims to address a problem is a non-existent one since Facebook does not claim copyright to personal information, photos and other materials users post on the social media site.

The California-based company also has not announced plans to make all post public regardless of the privacy settings of the user. The rumours started in November 2012 which was addressed by Facebook in the issuance of the following statement: “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. Click here to learn more: www.facebook.com/policies.”

ABC News also quotes Andrew Noyes, spokesman of FB, as saying, “When you post things like photos to Facebook, we do not own them … Under our terms you grant Facebook permission to use, distribute, and share the things you post, subject to the terms and applicable privacy settings.”

Snopes adds that Facebook users cannot retroactively negate any of the privacy or copyright terms they agreed to upon signing up for an account, or unilaterally change or contradict any new privacy or copyright terms made by FB with the simple posting of a contrary legal notice on the FB walls.

Facebook adopted the Privacy Shield because the Safe Harbour, the previous US-EU agreement, was abolished by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), The Telegraph explains. The ECJ declared in October 2015 the 15-year-old treaty invalid over concerns it enabled US surveillance which threatened the ability of companies such as FB, Google and Microsoft to move data between continents.

Privacy Shield came into force in July. Microsoft and Google have adopted the treaty and FB signed on the treaty at the end of September. But it only applies to FB’s Workplace and the Ads and Management technology.