Facebook is proving to be an excellent tool for spreading rumors, scams and hoaxes. Some are malicious, playing on our emotions to get clicks to websites, or even to trying to trick people into giving away their security passwords. The last year has introduced something different: the well meaning but misinformed repost.
In September and October we reported on two privacy rumors surrounding privacy and the Timeline, and now a new rumor is spreading regarding 'new Facebook guidelines' and copyright.
The rumor is untrue and misinformed, yet again.
The rumor looks like this:
"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)."
Why it's wrong
The supposed problem is exaggerated, and the proposed solution is nonsense. Facebook's published legal termsstate,
You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings.
... 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."
This is what you agree to when you use Facebook. You own the copyright to your own stuff, but posting it on Facebook allows them to use it, although this is heavily limited by your privacy settings.
The statement in the rumor, that 'Facebook is now an open capital entity' doesn't mean anything. Facebook may have floated on the stock market, but as a user you are still bound by its legal terms. If you don't like them, your only solution is to not use Facebook.
Sharing the above statement on your wall not only fails to achieve anything, but also spreads the rumor even further.
It's important when using social networks and media to share information that we do so responsibly. Don't just trust that a friend or contact of yours is correct - a quick search of what someone is asking you to share will tell you if its true or false.
Think before you share - be skeptical of anyone asking you to share something, whether it's text, a photo, video or a link. Facts are only ever a few clicks away on the internet.
Facebook values your privacy
With regards to Facebook privacy, security and copyright, it's worth remembering that while Facebook isn't a charity and needs to make money, it is not in its interests to exploit its users.
All of this year's privacy rumors seem to be based on the assumption that Facebook is maliciously trying to undermine your privacy and exploit you. Facebook's value is in its users, and its excellent privacy settings underpin why it has become the most succesful social network. Don't be a victim of knee-jerk conspiracy theories.