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Stop Falling For Facebook Hoaxes

Ashley Perna | PopWrapped Author

Ashley Perna

Updated 10/1/2015 12:14pm
Stop Falling For Facebook Hoaxes | Facebook
Media Courtesy of Jon Loomer

By now nearly everyone who uses Facebook has seen a friend or relative post a status update similar to the following:

Channel 13 News was just talking about this change in Facebook's privacy policy, and better safe than sorry is right. As of September 29, 2015 at 11:11 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, I do not give Facebook or any entities associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, or posts, both past and future. By this statement, I give notice to Facebook it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take any other action against me based on this profile and/or its contents. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of privacy can be published by law (UCC 1-308-11 308-103 and the Rome Statute). NOTE: Facebook is now a public entity. All members must post a note like this.

This type of hoax has been around since at least 2012, and has been debunked each time. In addition to being completely untrue, the language contained in that status update is basically meaningless.

Facebook

Courtesy of Search Cowboys

For starters:

Channel 13 News was just talking about this change in Facebook's privacy policy, and better safe than sorry is right.

The status usually starts off with a "better safe than sorry" disclaimer, and claims that the originating source is a news agency - this time it happens to be a mysterious "Channel 13". Interestingly enough, the post never actually links to the subject broadcast. In the age of internet oversharing, it's hard to imagine that "Channel 13" would refuse such widespread publicity. A number of stations across the U.S. who happen to use the name "Channel 13" have openly denied making such reports, including WIBW-TV,  WNYT News Channel 13News 13,  KTNV Channel 13 Action News, and WHO TV Channel 13 News. Were the story true, you can be pretty confident that news organizations would be clamouring to be the originating source. No one turns down free publicity.

Next:

I do not give Facebook or any entities associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, or posts, both past and future. By this statement, I give notice to Facebook it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take any other action against me based on this profile and/or its contents. The content of this profile is private and confidential information.

If you're like millions of people, you lied through your teeth when you signed up for Facebook and ticked the box indicating you both read and agree with the terms and conditions imposed on you as a Facebook user.  Facebook spokesperson Andrew Noyes cleared up some of the confusion about ownership of the content users post to Facebook, saying that "when you post things like photos to Facebook, we do not own them". Instead, users actually grant a license of sorts to Facebook to use the content you post. Attorney Brad Shear called it a "non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free, worldwide license to any content you post".

It's important to note that users can't opt out of individual sections of a contract simply by publishing something to the contrary. You can't opt out of making your credit card payments by writing a compelling article (trust me, I've tried) and you can't get around Facebook's terms and conditions through a post.

The most meaningless aspect of the whole post:

The violation of privacy can be published by law (UCC 1-308-11 308-103 and the Rome Statute).

The UCC is the Uniform Commercial Code, code containing a number of rules and regulations regarding commercial and business transactions, such as the sale of personal property. The UCC, and section 1-308 in particular, are commonly cited by conspiracy theorists who seem to believe that using this section somehow conveys diplomatic immunity. This section doesn't give a person or business the right to avoid or opt out of legally binding terms, but to "accept contract terms without risk to his [or her] other rights. Typically, these rights apply to matters of debt and contract performance". 

The Rome Statute is actually The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. It is a treaty that was adopted in July of 1998 in order to establish the International Criminal Court to address what the signatory parties considered to be international crimes. These crimes include genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. The Rome Statute does not cover contract disputes.

And last:

NOTE: Facebook is now a public entity.

This is also completely untrue. A public entity is an organization or agency run by the government (federal, state, or municipal). Facebook is a publicly traded company, meaning its stocks are traded on the open market. For the record, public entities are also allowed to require users to comply with their own terms and conditions.

None of this is to say that Facebook, or any other company, is completely transparent, or that as users we will be completely aware of every little change. In fact, Facebook is known for having confusing privacy settings and security policies. Blindly reposting misinformation is not the way to combat ignorance, however. The best thing we as users can do is to make ourselves aware of what terms and conditions we have actually agreed to, and to demand clarification from Facebook itself when confused. As smart as your brother's coworker's sister-in-law's aunt's dentist's assistant's mother is, Facebook is smarter.

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