If you have logged in to Facebook lately, it is likely that you have seen your friends or family post a worrisome status message asserting that they own all the content posted on their profile. The message explains that as Facebook is now a publicly owned company, anything you share on the website as a user is public property, and is therefore open to commercial use.

Here’s what the message says:

In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional 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 If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status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.

Welcoming the King

Facebook going public will not affect your content privacy

Clearly, the message is a hoax. Internet myth-busting site Snopes.com says that posting this status message does not change the copyright and privacy agreements you have already entered in with Facebook earlier.

In order to sign up on the social networking website, you must confirm that you accept Facebook’s legal terms, including its privacy policy and terms and policies — something most people skim over due to the large amount of text to be read.

You cannot alter your acceptance to that agreement, nor can you restrict the rights of entities who are not parties to that agreement, simply by posting a notice to your Facebook account or citing the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) or the Berne Convention,” says the website. You could either refuse to join Facebook, cancel your account or bilaterally negotiate a modified policy with Facebook in case you to not agree to the terms and conditions. 

Facebook users own the intellectual property rights to all content they upload to the social network, but depending on their privacy settings, users grant the social network “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).”

The changes users should be thinking about are those that Facebook has proposed to its data use policy and the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Currently, if a proposed change receives over 7,000 comments, people may vote for or against it, and if over 30 percent vote for or against the changes, their decision is binding. This is soon to be replaced with a focus on soliciting high-quality feedback through new features. This will help them avoid copy-pasted comments.

Facebook has pushing to make privacy policies easy for users to understand by greeting new users with a detailed description of it, but the constant changes to the website design and policies the website makes can seem difficult for users to keep a track on, leading to panicked hoaxes of this sort. You can read the privacy policy here and the terms and policies here to ensure that your content is in safe hands. 

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